Visual Arts

Glendale's Bead Museum Collection Headed to San Diego's Mingei International Museum

You snooze, you lose, Phoenix.

Glendale's one-of-a-kind Bead Museum closed permanently on Saturday. It is considered the most comprehensive public bead collection in existence, containing 11,650 beads and beaded items made from a wide variety of materials.

It embraces antique, ethnic, and contemporary beads and beaded objects from cultures around the world, including a 15,000 year old bead. The Bead Museum was founded in Prescott, Arizona in 1986 by Gabrielle Liese, an internationally respected bead collector and historian, and is the only museum of its kind in the world.

Because no one in the Valley stepped up to the plate, institutional or otherwise, The Bead Museum will become a part of San Diego's Mingei International Museum.

A spectacular folk art, design and craft museum located in historic Balboa Park, the Mingei will be an even more important cultural destination -- if that's possible -- now that it's the new home of Glendale's collection.

For the next several months, Mingei International will concentrate on absorbing the Glendale collection and plans on continuing documentation and use. Along with the bead collection Mingei International is also accepting a substantial library from The Bead Museum, including thousands of books, periodicals and catalogs.

You'll now have to schlep to San Diego to see the collection, pieces from which will be featured in "New Jewelry in a New Medium," an exhibition of beads and adornment made from polymer clay opening there in December, 2011.

Since my family lives in San Diego, I'll be able to visit the bead collection - and the Mingei's rockin' museum shop -- on a regular basis; too bad most other Arizonans won't be able to without leaving the state.