In recognition and celebration of the 70-year anniversary of the founding of Israel, Mingei International Museum and Balboa Park’s House of Israel will collaborate on a retrospective exhibition highlighting the nation’s diverse and lively craft and design. This original exhibition is organized by House of Israel curator, Smadar Samson, with Mingei International Museum’s executive director Rob Sidner serving as curatorial advisor.
“For years, Mingei has wanted to present the contemporary artistic accomplishments of this nation. When Smadar came to us and proposed this exciting major exhibition timed with Israel’s important anniversary, we could not pass up the opportunity,” said Sidner.
The exhibit is titled
ISRAEL – 70 Years of Craft and Design
and celebrates the art and innovation of the nation’s diverse people through a rich range of objects of daily use. Over 100 objects—including Yemenite jewelry, Bedouin textiles, contemporary garments, sustainable and industrial design, adornment incorporating ancient materials, furniture and ceramics—illustrate the special fusion of European and Arab influences embodied in Israel’s modern artscape. Coinciding with global recognition of Israel’s 70 years of statehood, this project is the Museum’s first opportunity in its 40-year history to feature the innovative work of Israel’s designers and artists.
“We are honored to partner with Mingei International Museum to present this exhibition. It will be the House of Israel’s most ambitious project to date and will offer the perfect setting to celebrate ours and The State of Israel’s 70th anniversary. We are ecstatic to be able to present this artistic, creative and expressive side of Israel which is seldom seen, and we could not have found a better partner to do so than this Museum,” Jack Maizel, House of Israel Board President said.
Over the past year, Samson’s curatorial work took her back to her native Israel to meet with artists, curators, collectors and designers and comb through museum and private collections, studios and galleries. As she continued the research from afar, she pieced together a collection of exemplary craft, cutting-edge fashion and design and a small selection of works made a century before Israel’s statehood.
Samson notes of her inspiration for the exhibition, “Israel has a craft and design history that is short and erratic, yet what it lacks in visual tradition, it makes up for with innovation, improvisation, and sophistication. I wanted to develop a unique opportunity to tell the story of the modern state of Israel through tangible, three-dimensional objects that not only combine aesthetics and functionality but also serve as repositories of values and meaning.”
The exhibition will include loans from three museums and over 80 artists – a combination of objects that provides a window into the complexity of Israeli culture today and articulates the dynamic creativity of this young nation.
ISRAEL – 70 Years of Craft and Design is made possible with support from the Jewish Federation of San Diego County, Consulate General of Israel, Los Angeles, Association of Israel’s Decorative Arts, A Culture of Peace, the San Diego community and generous Mingei International Museum and House of Israel donors. Learn more at