Michener Art Museum

Mira Nakashima

Mira Nakashima, 1993, photograph by Jack Rosen, courtesy of Mira Nakashima
BORN: February 11, 1942, Seattle, Washington

Mira is not only maintaining her father’s legacy and reputation but continuing his work in a literal hands-on sense.

Mira Nakashima was born in Seattle, Washington in 1942. As an infant she and her family were moved to Idaho and placed into an internment camp. Antonin Raymond, a colleague of Mira’s father, George Nakashima, sponsored the family’s release and invited them to his home in New Hope, Pennsylvania. While attending private school in Solebury, Nakashima was given the opportunity to develop her interest and skills in classical music, mathematics and languages. She is an accomplished flutist and contemplated pursuing a variety of interests before focusing on architecture in university.

Mira Nakashima graduated cum laude from Harvard University and later earned her masters in architecture at Waseda Unversity in Japan. “In architecture school it was extremely unusual to be a woman, especially in Japan. My friends and I were conscious about that we were a little odd. We were in a man’s field, but we just didn’t think anything about it” (Metropolis, March 2008). Her many projects include design and supervision of construction of Steve Rockefeller’s passive solar home in Vermont with Tetsu Amagasu (1982-83).

After graduate school, she returned home to Bucks County to work with her father, George Nakashima, the internationally known craftsman of wood furniture. After her father’s death in 1990, Nakashima became Vice President, Designer and Shop Supervisor at Nakashima studios.

In addition to keeping her father’s designs alive, Nakashima has her own catalog of works, “Keisho” meaning “continuation” or “succession.” While her designs are reminiscent of her father’s, it is obvious that she has taken it a step further experimenting with new angles and structural details. She has designed sanctuary furnishings for St. George’s Church in Titusville, New Jersey (1991-2), the George Nakashima Memorial Reading Room for the James A. Michener Art Museum (1993), and a flat seated musician’s chair with a T-shaped back for the performers of the Concordia Chamber Players (2003).

Another project includes completing her father’s vision of building and placing peace altars on the seven continents. The first Peace Table, completed in 1986 while George Nakashima was still alive, is located in New York City at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. Mira Nakashima has since overseen the installation of two more tables, located in India at the Unity Pavilion in the “City of Peace” Auroville (1996) and at the Academy of Art in Moscow, Russia (2001). The fourth table is to be installed in Cape Town, South Africa at the Desmond Tutu Peace Center.

In September of 2008, Mira Nakashima and brother, Kevin Nakashima, presented the James A. Michener Art Museum with the Nakashima Archives. Guests were invited to witness a traditional Japanese tea ceremony in the Minguren Arts Building in honor of their father’s legacy and the official signing o the Agreement for the Gift of Archives. Her works are presently on display in a new permanent installation at the James A. Michener Art Museum, Intelligent Design which opened in 2012.