By: Shayne Benowitz
Your guide to art and culture in Miami.
From groundbreaking museums dedicated to modern art to fascinating historic institutions, Miami has a wealth of museums to visit. With the 2013 opening of the Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) and newcomer Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami (ICA) opening a year later, Miami’s modern art scene is drawing both local and global acclaim. From art and design to history and culture, take your pick from one of Miami’s many museums.
Pérez Art Museum Miami
Perhaps the most important museum in Miami, PAMM opened its doors in December 2013 just in time for Art Basel. Dedicated to international art of the 20th and 21st centuries from the perspective of the Americas, the bayfront museum boasts an impressive permanent collection, as well as compelling exhibitions. The landmark building by Pritzker Prize-winning architects Herzog & de Meuron further solidified Miami’s place as a major city of the arts.
Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science
Soon to join the PAMM on its beautifully landscaped bayfront campus, the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science is opening in Downtown in Museum Park. Set to re-open in summer 2016, the new Museum of Science will feature an indoor-outdoor Living Core Aquarium with both terrestrial and aquatic environments that include a 500,000-gallon Gulf Stream Aquarium experience. The facility will also feature the full-dome Frost Planetarium, the Knight Learning Center and Innovation Center.
Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami
An exciting newcomer, the Instititue of Contemporary Art, Miami (ICA) took up temporary residence in the Design District’s Moore Building in December 2014 while awaiting completion of their permanent home in the same neighborhood. Founded by the Board of Trustees and former staff from the Musuem of Contemporary Art, North Miami, they’re dedicated to promoting continuous experimentation in contemporary art.
Located in the heart of South Beach’s Art Deco District, The Wolfsonian – FIU is a museum, as well as a library and research center that examines “the persuasive power of art and design and explores what it means to be modern.” Their collection of 120,000 objects, dating from 1885 to 1945, focuses on American and European decorative and fine arts, in addition to fascinating exhibitions. From propaganda posters to World's Fair memorabilia, the array of objects offers visitors a thought-provoking journey through the modern age.
On a beautiful plaza in downtown Miami, HistoryMiami is a Smithsonian Affiliate cultural institution. With the exhibit “Tropical Dreams: A People's History of South Florida” on permanent display, the intimate museum also plays host to various exhibitions highlighting historical moments in Miami and throughout the world.
Vizcaya Museum & Gardens
Conceived by retired millionaire James Deering, Vizcaya Museum & Gardens was originally built in the 1910s as his private Coconut Grove waterfront estate. Today, the original house and gardens, occupying 50 acres of land, is preserved and open to the public for tours. In addition to its historic intrigue, Vizcaya also houses contemporary art exhibits and a lovely al fresco café overlooking the pool ideal for lunch.
Haitian Heritage Museum
For a glimpse into Haitian culture in Miami and the Caribbean, the Haitian Heritage Museum is dedicated to Haitian art, historical artifacts, music, film and literary works. It’s a focal point and community gathering place in the colorful and thriving neighborhood of Little Haiti.
The Patricia and Phillip Frost Art Museum-FIU
Located on the Florida International University campus, the Patricia and Phillip Frost Art Museum is a Smithsonian Affiliate institution dedicated to both exhibiting art from diverse cultures throughout human history, and to providing a resource for scholarly research. The museum’s collections range from Pre-Columbian objects dating from 200-500 AD to works by contemporary Caribbean and Latin American artists.
Black Police Precinct & Courthouse Museum
The Black Police Precinct & Courthouse Museum in Miami’s Overtown is historically significant as home to the city’s first black police officers, dating back to the 1950s. Packed with artifacts, documents, video and oral history, its collections provide insight into Miami’s rich black heritage.
Miami-Dade College Museum of Art + Design
The Miami-Dade College Museum of Art + Design is housed inside the historic Freedom Tower in downtown Miami. Considered the Ellis Island of the Cuban exile, the Freedom Tower was used by the federal government in the 1960s to process refugees fleeing Fidel Castro’s regime. Part of the National Register of Historic Places, today it’s dedicated to art and design, as well as a permanent exhibit on the Cuban diaspora.
The Bass Museum of Art
Behind Collins Park on Miami Beach’s Collins Avenue between 21st and 22nd streets, is a 1930s Art Deco building, The Bass Museum of Art. The first public exhibition space for art in South Florida. Focusing on exhibitions of international contemporary art, such as design, fashion and architecture it also maintains a vigorous education program for visitors of all ages. In March 2017, the museum’s Creativity Center opens as the largest art museum education facility in Miami-Dade. The Museum has undergone a $12 million dollar renovation project and will reopen to the public in December 2016. Until then visitors are encouraged to visit the temporary BassX gallery at the Miami Beach Regional Library, 227 22nd Street.
Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU
Found inside Miami Beach’s first synagogue built in the late 1920s, the Jewish Museum of Florida’s core exhibition, “MOSAIC: Jewish Life in Florida, 1763-Present,” depicts the Florida Jewish experience through photography and artifacts. The beautiful Art Deco building is worth a visit all its own and rotating exhibits are also showcased here.
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