Beginning Yom HaAtzmaut this year, the Mingei International Museum in San Diego California’s Balboa Park will host a four-month exhibit titled “Israel-70 Years of Craft and Design.” The museum attracts a half million visitors a year and will devote all of its first floor space to the Israeli show. The exhibit will feature Israeli craft and design, for example jewelry, textiles, rugs, ceramics, lighting, furniture, etc. This is within the Mission of the Mingei International Museum: to show the craft of countries. The exhibit is in cooperation with the House of Israel, a small museum in the Park that features the history and life of modern Israel.
Balboa Park, home of the famed San Diego Zoo, attracts, beyond the San Diego community, a large number of both US domestic and international tourists. The Israeli exhibit audience will reflect these ordinary park visitors. Thus many people who know nothing about Israel save what they see in the news will get a personal viewing experience of another dimension of Israel.
This achievement, and I view it as that, is in large measure the effort of Smadar Samson, an Israeli born artist now resident in San Diego. Smadar has been the curator for the House of Israel and conceived of this much larger project in concert with the Mingei International Museum staff. Given their enthusiastic go-ahead, Smadar has devoted most of this past year with trips to Israel and organizing the myriad details of selecting, shipping, and displaying representative material. The House of Israel has also received the support of the Consulate General of Israel in Los Angeles, as well as the Association of Israel Decorative Arts (AIDA), the United Jewish Federation of San Diego, and other Israeli and San Diego organizations
The House of Israel has been in Balboa Park since May, 1948, and is believed to be the first non-official building in the USA on public land to fly the Israeli flag. Over the years the House of Israel has received visits from many Israeli tourists who, on seeing an Israeli flag flying overhead (in the USA) were drawn to visit it. So if you are planning a trip to San Diego this spring or summer, please visit and kvell over the compliment being shown to the State of Israel.