The Art of Navigating
Art Basel Miami Beach 2016

  • Miami Museum Month
  • May 1 - May 31

By: Jen Karetnik & Shayne Benowitz

What you need to know about Art Basel Miami Beach.

Art Basel Miami Beach is North America’s most comprehensive international contemporary art fair, with 269 galleries from 29 countries showcasing works by more than 4,000 artists. Held at the Miami Beach Convention Center, Art Basel Miami Beach will draw more than 73,000 art dealers, artists, collectors and aficionados to Miami during the fair, held this year from Dec. 1-4, 2016. It’s also spawned more than 20 satellite fairs, as well as parties and events galore.

Art Basel refers to the singular fair by that name held at the Miami Beach Convention Center, but the spirit of Art Basel lives in venues big and small throughout the city who host satellite fairs and glittering events. The Convention Center space is only the beginning of what goes on during the whirlwind week of art and parties that’s perfectly suited for Miami.

For a full list of satellite fairs and events, check out The Ultimate Guide to Miami Art Week During Art Basel.

The History of Art Basel

A sister fair of the original, founded in Basel, Switzerland in 1970, the Miami Beach edition has been an annual fixture in early December since 2002. The brainchild of a trio of Swiss gallerists, Ernst Beyeler, Trudi Bruckner and Balz Hilt, their vision brought together the artists they represented, as well as collectors, curators and critics from all over the globe for the first Art Basel. Their vision was a success and over 16,000 people attended the first fair.

Miami was selected as an ideal second destination with its unique position at the nexus of North America and South America. Over the years, with the boon from Art Basel, Miami has become a thriving arts destination in its own right with a vibrant gallery scene in Wynwood and the opening of the landmark Pérez Art Museum Miami. The festival has also been held in Hong Kong since 2012, a city that sits symbolically at the junction of Eastern and Western culture.

About Art Basel

At Art Basel Miami Beach, the 500,000 square-feet of exhibition space at the Convention Center is divided into nine sectors with the Galleries sector as the centerpiece of the show. The sectors divide the fair into separate curatorial spaces. For instance, Nova exhibits new, cutting edge works, while Kabinett focuses on a body of work by a single artist or a themed group exhibition.

This includes the Public sector held at Collins Park in conjunction with the Bass Museum of Art, and the Film sector, which also showcases work at the New World Center. Survey was introduced in 2014 and is dedicated to art-historical projects ranging from solo shows to thematic exhibitions with select galleries.

While Art Basel Miami Beach opens to the public on Thursday, Dec. 1 and runs through Sunday, Dec. 4, the social calendar and satellite fair openings start a few days earlier, encapsulating a week that’s known as Miami Art Week.

Miami Art Week Highlights

Pérez Art Museum Miami has been showcasing an impressive line-up of exhibits since its inauguration. The Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami in residency at the Moore Building in the Design District is sure to make a splash during Art Basel with a provocative exhibition by artist Thomas Bayrle.

Additionally, Wolfsonian FIU, The Patricia and Phillip Frost Art Museum at FIUBass Museum of Art, Lowe Art Museum, MDC Museum of Art + Design, Jewish Museum of Florida and Vizcaya Museum & Gardens, Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden will all host special events and exhibitions during the month of December.

Design Miami, the leading global forum for collectible design, will celebrate the world’s leading galleries specializing in 20th and 21st century design. As the official sister fair to Art Basel Miami Beach, the Design Miami tent is adjacent to the Convention Center.

With Miami home to impressive private collections—The Marguilies Collection at the Warehouse, the de la Cruz Collection and the Rubell Family Collection—they open their doors to the public during Miami Art Week at varying hours.

The Film Sector at the New World Center’s Soundscape Park is an exciting outdoor venue to view video art under the stars projected onto a 7,000 square-foot wall designed by Frank Gehry.

Satellite Art Fairs

In addition to the main event, there are a number of must see satellite fairs. For cutting edge, contemporary works, check out Pulse Miami, NADA and Art Untitled. Scope and Art Miami actually predate Art Basel Miami Beach, and they feature an impressive array of galleries with modern and contemporary works. Other fairs include Aqua, Red Dot Art Fair and Select Fair.

In addition to Art Basel’s Public Sector, the entire city turns into a canvas for ephemeral installations and art happenings. Neighborhood hubs for these works include South Beach, Midtown and Wynwood. It’s also a major bacchanal with VIP parties, dinners and events thrown every night.

Free Art Week Shuttle Service

In an effort to make the numerous art fairs in Miami Beach and Miami more easily accessible, the two cities have joined efforts to operate a free shuttle service that connects to the existing free transportation services and art shows in each city. For complete shuttle details, click here.

Museum Mile Cultural Pass

While you're here soak up the local culture through Miami’s vast array of world-class museums. The Miami Beach Museum Mile Cultural Pass includes discounted admission to four top museums and other special benefits. The pass includes admission to the Bass Museum of Art, the Wolfsonian, the Jewish Museum of Florida and the World Erotic Art Museums. As an added bonus, visitors with the Museum Mile Cultural Pass will get special discounts of 15 percent or greater at over 20 popular Miami Beach restaurants.

For a full list of all Art Basel events, visit

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