The Mint Museum announces ‘Craft in the Laboratory: The Science of Making Things’ — the first installation in the Southeast to explore how creative ingenuity melds with STEM concepts

The MInt Museum

Simone Elizabeth Saunders (Canada, 1983– ), She Holds the Key, 2019, cotton and linen ground cloth; wool threads. 62 x 60 inches. Collection of The Mint Museum. Museum Purchase with funds from the Charlotte Debutante Club. 2021.14. Photo: Courtesy of the Artist.

The Mint Museum announces ‘Craft in the Laboratory: The Science of Making Things’ — the first installation in the Southeast to explore how creative ingenuity melds with STEM concepts

For Immediate Release 

Charlotte (January 7, 2022)Craft in the Laboratory: The Science of Making Things, presented by Müller Corporationopens February 12 at Mint Museum Uptown. The installation is the first of its kind in the Southeast to explore how craft artists and designers use science and math concepts, and celebrates a revitalizing and reinstallation of the Mint’s highly acclaimed Craft + Design permanent collection.

Co-curated by the Mint’s Senior Curator of Craft, Design, and Fashion Annie Carlano and Assistant Curator for Craft, Design, and Fashion Rebecca Elliot, Craft in the Laboratory includes 100 works from the Mint’s collection that are made from precious metals, wood, steel, polymers, and even agricultural waste, that emphasize the preciseness of science used to craft works of art. Made by nationally and internationally renowned artists, the objects are organized by material and subject throughout the galleries.

Craft in the Laboratory: The Science of Making Things is the first project of its kind in the Southeast to examine how artists and scientists think and work alike, and how designers of all types use science, technology, engineering, and mathematics in their making,” Carlano says.

The Mint’s head of school and gallery programs, Joel Smeltzer, worked with Carlano, Elliot, and educators from other museums across the United States to enhance the reinstallation with gallery features, including videos of makers showing and describing their processes, touchable material tiles hand-crafted by STARworks in Star, North Carolina, and detailed gallery labels that convey the technical aspects of the materials and processes used by the artists.

Smeltzer is also working with a team of eight Charlotte teachers to develop future gallery interactives and lesson plans for field trips to The Mint Museum to experience Craft in the Laboratory.

In partnership with Müller Corporation and the Craft & Trade Academy, a nonprofit organization dedicated to developing trades and craft in Charlotte, a series of future workshops featuring local and international artists related to the Craft in the Laboratory are also being planned.

“During these workshops the Craft & Trade Academy will seek to immerse participants and apprentices in the art of craftsmanship and in the beauty of working with natural materials. This will show the arc of suspense between craft and trades, and how everything is connected with each other,” says Frank Müller, president and CEO of Müller Corporation and president of the Craft & Trade Academy.

New acquisitions in the installation include She Holds the Key by artist Simone Elizabeth Saunders, Nyala Chair by Jomo Tariku, and Rainbow Chair by designer Patrick Norguet. Other works in the installation from the Mint’s collection include artist Kate Malone’s stoneware vessels with crystalline glazes Mr. And Mrs. Tutti Atomic; artist Brent Kington’s forged and welded Weathervane; artist Susan Point’s carved and painted red cedar work Salmon Spawn Running; and designer Laura Kishimoto’s Yumi Chair II made of wood veneer and steel.

“The reinstallation of the Craft + Design galleries allow us the opportunity to bring new works out on view and to interpret the collection through new pairings and themes,” says Todd Herman, president and CEO at The Mint Museum. “Craft in the Laboratory examines how investigation, experimentation, and critical thinking are common to both science and art, and the correlation of art with science, technology, engineering, and math that effectively changing STEM to STEAM concepts.”

The installation is accompanied by an important and timely catalogue on the topic, with contributions by several scholars and a lead essay by Rebecca Elliot. The fully illustrated catalogue of the same name, published by Dan Giles Ltd., also includes contributions from Carlano, Smeltzer, and guest essayists

Zoe Laughlin, PhD, materials scientist and director of the Center of Making at University College London; and Hideo Mabuchi, PhD, a physicist at Stanford University who is also a weaver and potter.

Craft in the Laboratory is the first publication in over 20 years to discuss The Mint Museum’s Craft and Design collection in depth,” Elliot says. The book will be available for purchase at The Mint Museum Store in February 2022.

Craft in the Laboratory: The Science on Making Things is generously presented by Müller Corporation. Generous individual support provided by Beth and Drew Quartapella, Mary Anne (M.A.) Rogers, Ann and Michael Tarwater, and Rocky and Curtis Trenkelbach. Additional support provided by the National Endowment for the Arts. The catalogue is supported by the John and Robyn Horn Foundation.

Ticket Information 

The Mint Museum exhibition is free for members and children ages 4 and younger; $15 for adults; $10 for seniors ages 65 and older; $10 for college students with ID; and $6 for youth ages 5–17. 

The Mint Museum  

Established in 1936 as North Carolina’s first art museum, The Mint Museum is a leading, innovative cultural institution and museum of international art and design. With two locations—Mint Museum Randolph in the heart of Eastover and Mint Museum Uptown at Levine Center for the Arts on South Tryon Street—the Mint boasts one of the largest collections in the Southeast and is committed to engaging and inspiring members of the global community. 

Müller Corporation

Founded in Germany, and family owned and operated, Müller provides commercial surface installation, and cleaning and maintenance services to the solar, hospitality, automotive, food and beverage, and other industries. European standards and in-house trained craftsmen ensure superior results and unmatched client service. To learn more, visit

Craft & Trade Academy

Founded in 2019, the training programs and apprenticeships are based on the international recognized German model. In order to develop apprentices into quality craftsmen, the Academy runs classroom and workshop training, as well as on-the-job training recognized by the Department of Labor. The Craft & Trade Academy is a public 501(c)3 nonprofit higher education institution committed to providing paths and expanding skills within the construction industry. To learn more, visit


Michele Huggins, Interim Director of Marketing and Communications at The Mint Museum | 704-564-0826