Celebrating the 15th Anniversary of the opening of the Mint Museum of Craft + Design
It was 15 years ago that the Mint Museum of Craft + Design (MMCD) opened, located at 220 North Tryon Street, in the former Montaldo’s department store building. Lee, Nichols, Hepler Architecture designed the facility, and Rodgers Builders Inc. served as the general contractor for the project. Mark Leach, formerly Mint Curator of 20th Century Art, became the first Director, and was tasked with growing the collections, programming, and operations. The facility was built to house collections of historic craft and contemporary studio crafts. Cornerstone collections on display included the Allan Chasanoff Ceramic Collection, featuring postwar ceramic art works from Europe, Asia and North America, and a selection of turned wood from the Jane and Arthur Mason Collection.
The Mint Museum of Craft + Design opened on Sunday, January 10, 1999, with a “Community Celebration”. Activities included local artist demonstrations, live Celtic, gospel, and jazz music, art activities for children of all ages, and a community art project made by the day’s visitors. Bruce Evans, Mint President and CEO (1991-2000) stated, “It is appropriate to our region’s craft heritage that a museum with an international craft focus will be housed in North Carolina. We are excited by this remarkable opportunity to contribute to both the international field of crafts and to the already burgeoning Charlotte Center City.”
Image caption: People waiting in line at the new facility, Mint Museum of Craft + Design, one of a select institutions devoted to craft in 1999: the Renwick, part of the Smithsonian, and the American Craft Museum in NYC were the only other two major venues in the U.S. at that time.