In the future, entrance into the ground floor of the Mingei International Museum will be free.

The Balboa Park institution has embarked on its radical plans for a transformation. The $26 million project goes well beyond a cosmetic redesign.

The San Diego firm LUCE et Studio Architects is working with Mingei leaders on the effort, and the firm’s principal Jennifer Luce said the goal is to make the museum more welcoming and accessible to a wider audience. The museum shows folk art, craft and design, and Luce said the transformation will better reflect that.

“Mingei is art of the people, and we want this to be a place of the people,” she said.

The revamp, which is expected to break ground next year, will include making the 1,500 square foot ground floor more open and free to the public (accessing the upstairs floor of Mingei will still require membership or paid admission). The museum will also reopen two outdoor terraces that haven’t been used since the 1950s and turn its loading dock into a new community theater space and outdoor courtyard.

“We’ve also discovered all sorts of windows that had been covered up,” Luce said. “It’s just going to feel like a different space when we’re done.”

The Mingei is not alone in its endeavor to expand and diversify its audience by opening up access and dropping admission fees. A handful of big museums have done away with set admission prices, including the Museum of Photographic Arts and the San Diego History Center.

“It is a perfect moment for Mingei to redefine itself and its audience,” Luce said. “The meaning and purpose of museums in the world is changing rapidly. They are opening themselves up to becoming more civic, social gathering spaces.”

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A Public Art Party, an Exhibition on the Border Wall and Other Culture News

The Stuart Collection at UC San Diego is hosting an opening reception for its 19th public art work installed on the campus. “The Wind Garden” is an immersive sound installation by composer John Luther Adams. I talked to Adams about the installation last year.

John Luther Adams
Photo by Kinsee Morlan

A guerilla-style pop-up photography exhibition invited folks to hang unity-themed artwork directly on the border fence. The wall between the United States and Mexico has long served as a place for people to stage or make politicized art.

 The 31st annual La Jolla Music Society SummerFest is happening Aug. 2-25 and features more than a dozen concerts, many that showcase music from other countries. (La Jolla Light)

 Artist studios were among the dozens of businesses affected by a water main break in Little Italy Sunday morning. “My studio and 8 other artists around me had about 2-3 feet of water. Everything was under water and destroyed,” artist Cynthia Colis wrote on Facebook. She said insurance won’t cover her losses and she blames the bad city infrastructure for the flood.

 Tijuana artist Charles Glaubitz told CityBeat that his new work is like a “huge graphic poem.” See it in his solo show at the Athenaeum Art Center in Logan Heights through Sept. 7.

 The Casbah made Yelp’s list of the top 50 music venues in the U.S.

 Check out this free art and music events for kids.

 In 2011, The Getty led the Pacific Standard Time initiative and got dozens of museums, galleries and other cultural institutions to stage shows focused on the contributions of Southern California artists from 1945 to 1980. The project, which works to highlight and elevate Southern California’s role in art and architecture, is back this year with a focus on Latin American and Latino art. A few San Diego institutions, like the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, are participating come fall. (Los Angeles Times, Times of San Diego)

 I was glad to hear that the downtown Tijuana alleyways that were remade into hip arts and culture spaces a handful of years ago are still hosting cool events. (CityBeat)

 The Union-Tribune’s Pam Kragen says The Old Globe’s “Robin Hood!” is “fun, frothy summer entertainment.”

 KPBS’s Michael Lipkin says The Fleet Science Center’s latest video game exhibit is “an easy sell even for science-averse kids.”

 San Diego choreographer Michael Mizerany’s “Man Dance Series” continues. (Vanguard Culture)

 The Athenaeum’s annual juried exhibition is probably the most prestigious juried show in town. It’s opening Friday.

Beer, Booze, Weed and Food News

 Restaurateurs have long depended on private investors to help start or grow their businesses. San Diego Magazine’s Troy Johnson talks to a few local restaurant entrepreneurs who are running into new competition when it comes to getting funding: weed ventures.

James Slatic San Diego
Photo by Kinsee Morlan

 Speaking of the weed business, did you catch episode 2 of our new I Made it in San Diego podcast? It’s about James Slatic, a legal weed pioneer whose backstory is incredible.

 The guy behind Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza talks to the Union-Tribune about why he’s reopening Sammy’s at Liberty Station as a fancy Peruvian restaurant. Pisco, by the way, is just one of the new eateries opening at Liberty Station. San Diego Eater’s got a quick roundup of a few other spots opening up inside Liberty Public Market.

 A new San Marcos startup takes leftover baked goods from the San Diego Food Bank and turns it into vodka. (Union-Tribune)

 The South Park Abbey is closing. (

 Tiki Oasis is an annual event that celebrates tiki culture (if you have no idea what tiki culture is, listen to an old story I did about it for KPBS). Since the event is happening this month, San Diego Magazine took a quick look at fancy, flourished and often fruity tiki cocktails. (San Diego Magazine)

 I’m a bit bitter that our region’s annual lemon festival happens in Chula Vista rather than my hometown of Lemon Grove. What’s up with that?

 Karl Strauss Brewing Co. launched a distribution arm. (West Coaster)

 A Tijuana supper club is setting up in San Diego for a night.

 Cafes serving locally roasted coffee continue springing up across the region.

 The Taste of Encinitas is happening next Tuesday.

Correction: An earlier version of this post used an outdated cost estimate for the Mingei revamp; the current estimate is $26 million.

Kinsee Morlan is engagement editor at Voice of San Diego. Email her at Want to recommend this culture newsletter to someone? Share this sign-up link. 

Kinsee Morlan was formerly the Engagement Editor at Voice of San Diego and author of the Culture Report. She also managed VOSD’s podcasts and covered...

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