Mingei International Museum


Location: Balboa Park (3 Miles Northeast of Downtown San Diego)

Open Daily: 10AM – 4PM. Closed on Mondays and National Holidays.

Cost: $8 ($5 for Kids ages 6-17 and $5 for Seniors)

Features: Art of the People. Look at art made by man from 3rd Century BCE to current times.

mingei-art-museumMingei International Highlights: Look at artifacts of art created by people of cultures throughout the world and through the history of time. The Mingei’s collection includes over 17,600 items from 141 countries. Traveling exhibitions bring additional variety that exposes visitors to the breadth of human art.

When to Visit the Mingei Museum

  • If you want to enter the Museum for free, go on the Third Tuesday of the Month. Likewise, if you want to avoid large crowds, this is the day to avoid the Mingei Museum, especially during the summer.

What to Expect

  • Plan to spend up to three hours in this museum, longer if you like to read all of the exhibit details.
  • The Museum is spread over two large floors. You will find fliers available for many of the exhibitions at the front entrance or in the respective exhibition areas.
  • There are a number of small video theaters throughout the Museum. Many of the exhibitions offer videos from 10 to 40 minutes in length providing insight on the exhibition.
  • In the back left corner of the 1st floor, you will find a small room with an Interactive Digital Image Kiosk. Here you can view over 1,200 works of art from the Mingei’s collections, which are currently not on display in the Museum.
  • Plan on spending some time in the large museum gift shop.

Art Exhibitions – There are generally two to three traveling exhibitions at any one time bringing a variety of cultural artifacts from different eras and continents. Learn more about the current exhibits and take a look at upcoming exhibits.

Art Collection – You can view a sample of the collections organized by continent and country on the Mingei’s web site. To see photos and basic details for the majority of the collection, visit a separate web site established by the museum’s founder, Martha Longenecker, at See-Mingei.org.

Tours – Tours are generally available from volunteers at no additional charge. They take place on an as needed basis from 10AM to Noon (Weekdays) and from 1PM to 3PM Daily. Tours last about 45 minutes. You may call ahead for availability.

Events Calendar – The Mingei offers workshops, lectures, and special events to help bring some of their collections and exhibitions to life. The events calendar also notes any special admission offers.

Food – There is no cafe in the Mingei International Museum. However, there is a cafe nearby in the Museum of Art (several American Fare hot foods) and a Tea Pavilion in the Japanese Friendship Garden (several Japanese Fare hot foods). You can read more about food options on the Balboa Park web site.

No Smoking is allowed in or around the Mingei Museum.

Information on Visiting the Mingei International Museum

Admission Prices: (Costs are Approximate)

  • Parking is Free
  • Standard Fee is $8
  • $5 for Seniors
  • $5 for Kids ages 6-17, college students and active duty military personnel with I.D.
  • General Admission is Free for San Diego County residents and for Active Military & their families on the 3rd Tuesday of each month.
  • Passport to Balboa Park – Pay one low price for a Pass that will allow you one entry into each of thirteen participating Balboa Park Museums. You have seven days to use the Park Pass once you begin using it. For an additional fee, you can add a discounted San Diego Zoo Best Value ticket.  Also note, the Passport to Balboa Park Pass allows you to watch an IMAX movie at the Science Center. Passport to Balboa Park tickets can be purchased online.

Directions from Google Maps to 1439 El Prado in San Diego, CA 92101. The Mingei Museum is inside the House of Charm building, which is also home to the San Diego Art Institute. (Google labels the building as the Museum of the Living Artist.) Google will recommend surface streets through business and residential areas to reach the Mingei Museum. This is fine. However, if you want to avoid residential streets and gain easier access to larger parking lots, use the directions for 2215 Pan American Road, which will put you right at the corner of Presidents Way and Pan American Road noted in the parking section below.

Parking – There is a parking lot behind the Mingei Museum. However, this small parking lot fills up quickly most days. The closest large parking lot is at the corner of Presidents Way and Pan American Road. (Note: Do not make a right turn at the first street you see after turning onto Presidents Way from Park Boulevard. It does not access the parking lot even though it looks like it should.) Once you park, you can walk about 100 yards up a small hill and find the Museum on your left side. You can also take the free Balboa Park Tram from the street corner up to the Prado stop.

If you don’t want to deal with parking hassles, especially during the summer and on weekends, go to the large parking lots on the opposite side of Park Boulevard. They are on Presidents Way on the east side of Park Boulevard, away from the museums. The Tram starts at the end of the driveway and circulates every 10 minutes from 8:30AM – 6PM daily with extended hours during the summer and special occasions.

Traffic – Unless there is a major event at Balboa Park, which occurs a few times during the year, getting in and out of Balboa Park is relatively easy using Park Boulevard. If you approach Balboa Park using southbound SR-163, traffic occasionally backs up a little over a mile before reaching the Park Boulevard Exit, which is the same exit for the I-5 northbound. However, the delay will only take a few extra minutes. Likewise, if you are planning to get on SR-163 northbound after leaving Balboa, plan on a short delay during the mid and late afternoon hours as a few entrance ramps merge together before reaching the highway. (Learn how to get the latest traffic updates.)

Transit – Buses serving Balboa Park drop passengers off on Park Boulevard near the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center and the San Diego Museum of Natural History. The stop is underneath a pedestrian bridge, which you can take to reach the Mingei Museum at the other end of the Pedestrian Mall. (See San Diego Transit Information for the downtown transit map, which includes Balboa Park, and information for the online Transit Planner.)

You can also get off the bus at Presidents Way to catch the Free Balboa Park Tram. The Tram starts at the end of the driveway, on the east side of Presidents Way and circulates every 10 minutes from here to the main circle at the Prado stop, near the Mingei Museum. The Tram runs from 8:30AM – 6PM daily with extended hours during the summer and special occasions.

Balboa Park Map – The map shows a listing of all Balboa Park Museums, attractions, bus and tram stops, and places to eat. You should also print out the Balboa Park Tram Map from the City of San Diego. It is not as detailed but is helpful because it includes names on each of the buildings. With the other map, you need to use a map key to find the name of a building.

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