Before visiting this "permanent safe haven for beads," our knowledge of beads was limited to two facts: 1) beads have holes in them; and 2) beads are easy to lose. We had no idea that an entire subculture is devoted to promoting the "appreciation of the historical and cultural significance of beads . . . from ancient, ethnic and contemporary cultures by means of collection, documentation, preservation and display."
Let there be no doubt: These people take their beads seriously. Exhibits include "The Shape of Beads to Come," "Learning Bead Lingo," and the undoubtedly divisive "Common Bead Names and Misnomers," while the museum's calendar features appearances by guest artists and an extensive array of classes and workshops. Almost 50 courses are offered this fall alone, ranging from the introductory "Basic Beading" to the advanced "Wedding Series," in which the expert beadhead crafts a necklace, earrings and headband to wear at her own wedding.
And the bead goes on. . . . The museum store is a truly international experience, peddling Chinese glass beads, Japanese seed beads, handmade Peruvian animal beads, German glass beads, Czech seed beads and Navajo-made jewelry.