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Arts And Culture Take Center Stage In Greater Miami & Miami Beach

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Visitors to Greater Miami and Miami Beach with agendas beyond the perfect poolside beverage have never been disappointed exploring the destination’s lively arts scene. While great beaches, beautiful weather and a hot nightlife have earned Miami its status as the world's favorite playground, the destination is home to a diverse, sophisticated population that has sparked an increase in non-profit cultural groups from 100 to more than 700 over the past 20 years. Defined in part by its geographic location at the crossroads of Latin America and with a kaleidoscope of cultural groups that reflect its mix, Miami's cultural milieu is rich with grassroots organizations as well as world-class cultural institutions.

Miami’s evolution into an international destination directly impacts cultural life. As more and more important visual and performing artists are attracted to live and work in Miami, the quality of exhibits and performances rises.

World Class Arts Centers

As Greater Miami and Miami Beach molds itself into a 21st century arts mecca, the most renowned architects of our era, including Cesar Pelli, Robert A.M. Stern, Arquitectonica, Zaha Hadid, Sou Fujimoto, Frank Gehry, Herzog & DeMeuron, Grimshaw Architects and Arata Isozaki, are changing the destination's face.

Case in point is the dazzling New World Symphony Center, designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Frank Gehry. This jaw-dropping, beautiful space is home to the New World Symphony – a laboratory for musical education and expression and world-class performing arts. Its 7,000-square-foot (650 square meters) projection wall shows free concerts, video art and films in Soundscape, a 2.5-acre (1 hectare) public park designed by Dutch architectural firm West 8. The Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami Dade County – the second largest in the U.S. after the Kennedy Center was designed by Cesar Pelli, featuring 570,000-square-feet (52954 square meters) of spectacular space straddling Biscayne Boulevard. The venue is one of only four major centers in the United States featuring three separate performance facilities created to present ballet, opera, theater and symphonic music. Modeled after "purpose-built" performance halls like New York's Lincoln Center, the magnificent venue includes the 2,200-seat John S. and James L. Knight Concert Hall, the 2,400-seat Sanford and Dolores Ziff Ballet Opera House, and a 200-seat Carnival Studio Theatre. Two nationally esteemed companies are in residence: the Florida Grand Opera and Miami City Ballet. A major destination for visitors and residents alike, the Center has served as an important force in revitalization efforts in downtown Miami.

A $44 million South Miami-Dade Cultural Center, designed by renowned architectural firm Arquitectonica, sits on six acres (2.4 hectares) of waterfront property in Cutler Bay. Conceived as a multidisciplinary arts center and showcase for the performing arts, the complex houses a 966-seat theater, a dramatic "Art in Public Places" project by internationally renowned artist Robert Chamber, an activities building and two outdoor performance spaces.

Amazing Events

Underscoring Miami's growing stature as one of the world's preeminent centers for art culture is Art Basel Miami Beach, which has become the most talked about art event in the United States. This sister fair to Art Basel Switzerland has become more celebrity-packed, exhilarating and successful each year since its auspicious debut in America in December 2002. Five days of exhibits, A-list parties, lectures, alternative and crossover events and ancillary exhibits rage nonstop for the “crème de la crème” of the international art world and its collectors, dealers, curators and critics. More than 260 leading galleries from North America, Europe, Latin America, Asia and Africa take part, showcasing works by more than 2,000 artists of the 20th and 21st centuries. Art Basel inspires many additional events, including Art of Black Miami, a platform that spotlights aspiring and renowned local and global artists. Launching during Art Basel, but continuing year-round, this initiative celebrates the abundant artistic diversity found within Miami's cultural and heritage neighborhoods. Guests can experience and interact with new artworks and projects, visit pop-up art galleries, meet artists close up and attend special events.

Also occurring alongside Art Basel Miami Beach is Design Miami, the premier global forum for design. Each fair brings together the most influential collectors, galleries, designers, curators and critics from around the world in celebration of design culture and commerce, presenting and consuming museum-quality exhibitions of 20th and 21st century furniture, lighting and objects d’art. Also during Art Basel Miami Beach is another sign that Miami has ascended as a premier arts mecca, Art Miami. This important annual show draws over 55,000 arts lovers, with more than 100 galleries from approximately 20 countries, including emerging and local venues.

January brings the Miami International Art Fair to Miami Beach, featuring one-artist shows, group exhibitions, photography, cutting edge art projects, installations, video art, symposia, art tours, lectures, featured country sections and numerous activities that attract collectors from throughout the U.S., Latin America and Europe. Each February Coconut Grove, a former artist colony, honors its artistic roots with the Coconut Grove Arts Festival, the nation's largest annual outdoor celebration of visual arts and crafts. Every President’s Day Weekend the Grove comes alive with the works of 360 internationally recognized artists, attracting more than 120,000 art lovers.

The Original Miami Beach Antique Show, the world's largest indoor antique show with more than 800 established dealers from 22 different countries takes place in February, as well as Art Wynwood, a cutting edge contemporary art fair presenting more than 60 galleries from nine countries and over 25 cities. The annual fair takes place during President's Day Weekend (mid-February), offering innovative paintings, photography, sculpture, art video and new media, conceptual art and urban street art.

On the music front, Miami pulses with life. The Living Artist Concert Series at the Deering Estate at Cutler, held October through April each year, combines ensemble performances with lectures, visual art exhibits, environmental awareness and interpretive programs. Little Haiti Cultural Center presents “Big Night in Little Haiti" monthly, featuring free music on the plaza with world class exhibits in the Center gallery, hands-on activities for kids in the studio and much more. The annual Afro Roots World Music Festival takes place each April, blasting Miami with sounds from Africa, the Caribbean, and the Americas.

Carnaval Miami, the nation’s largest street festival, rocks the streets of Little Havana each March with Latin art and music. Also in Little Havana, Latin music lovers can also enjoy Viernes Culturales/Cultural Fridays, a monthly arts and culture street festival/gallery stroll offering live music in Domino Plaza, a free walking tour, and an artist fair with local artists and artisans.

Marvelous Museums

Beyond the glitter and glamour of art fairs, Miami is a visual arts town year round. An ever-growing number of cultural institutions, galleries and alternative spaces are fueled by an increasingly notable resident talent pool and supported by serious collectors. Throughout Miami, indoor and out, impressive public art projects by local, nationally and internationally acclaimed artists blanket the landscape, courtesy of Miami-Dade Art in Public Places, a model program for the rest of the country. Art aficionados can travel to Miami’s southernmost reaches for more fabulous eye candy namely Art South, an artist's collective of working and exhibit space in historic downtown Homestead. Art South hosts a monthly open house, providing the opportunity to enjoy the newest exhibits and meet the studio artists, while savoring refreshments and musical entertainment in the sculpture garden.

Miami International Airport (MIA) boasts a dynamic collection of unique art work from world-renowned artists. Its corridors are filled with stunning murals, paintings, mobiles, photographs, and mosaics and intricately designed interior spaces.

Miami’s museums are diverse and renowned, and every April and May they provide special offers for Miami Attractions & Museum Month (www.MiamiMuseumMonth.com), including buy one get one free passes.

Miami’s arts and culture renaissance is also evidenced by Museum Park, an environmentally friendly public space offering visitors a spectacular vantage point overlooking Biscayne Bay. The park is home to the latest museum architectural wonders to hit the arts scene, such as the Perez Art Museum Miami (PAMM), sustainably designed by Herzog & De Meuron and featuring 200,000-square-feet of contemporary art, as well as educational tours and Verde, a waterfront restaurant and bar with locally inspired seasonal menus. The park is also home of The Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science (Frost Science), designed by Grimshaw Architects, representing a complete revamp of the old science museum originally located in Coconut Grove. South Florida arts supporters Patricia and Phillip Frost gifted $45 million to name the new museum and its new state-of-the-art Planetarium with the aim of helping create one of the world’s most exciting museum experiences. Structured around a lushly landscaped indoor and outdoor ‘living core’ of terrestrial and aquatic exhibits, featuring one-of-a-kind aquarium components, an innovative digital dome, hands-on exhibits and interactive digital technology, Frost Science offers 250,000-square-feet of exhibits designed to inspire the mind, engage the senses and stimulate the imagination.

Another downtown “must-see” is HistoryMiami, which highlights the destination’s sometimes notorious past and brings it to life with a variety of educational and engaging guided tours by foot, bike, boat and bus.

The Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation (CIFO) in another must-see. Cifo is a non-profit organization committed to the enrichment of the arts. Over the years, CIFO has earned the respect of the international art world; and is recognized for its rich history in the fostering of contemporary art. As an art foundation, they are dedicated to the support of emerging and mid-career contemporary artists from Latin America. Since 2002, CIFO has granted more than $1.5 Million to over 140 artists from Latin America. CIFO is also the guardian of the Ella Fontanals-Cisneros Collection, one of the most important international collections of contemporary art in the world.

As part of its 50th anniversary, The Bass (formerly the Bass Museum of Art) on Miami Beach – one of the area’s most striking venues – closed in June 2015 to begin an internal enlargement that provided 47 percent more programmable space within the museum’s existing building footprint. The Bass reopened in October 2017 after a $12 million expansion with a rechristened name - The Bass. The new name reflects the mission of exhibiting of-the-moment art. The project has enabled the museum to more properly showcase its large collection of European painting, sculpture, and textiles from the Renaissance to the present.

ICA Miami in the Miami Design District sits in a gleaming three-story building. The Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami (ICA Miami) is dedicated to promoting the work of contemporary artists and to the exchange of art and ideas throughout the Miami region and internationally. Through an energetic calendar of exhibitions and programs, and its collections, ICA Miami provides an international platform for the work of established and emerging artists and advances the public appreciation and understanding of the most innovative and experimental art of our time. Admission to the museum is always free as to engage the community in all its programming.

Nearby, another one-of-a-kind cultural gem – the Wolfsonian-FIU – awaits in a historic landmark Art Deco District building. Owned by Florida International University (FIU), the museum is home to the Mitchell Wolfson Jr. collection, as well as a library and research center. The museum uses objects to illustrate the persuasive power of art and design, explore what it means to be modern, and to tell the story of social, historical, and technological changes that have transformed our world. The collections comprise approximately 120,000 objects from the period of 1885 to 1945—the height of the Industrial Revolution to the end of the Second World War—in a variety of media including furniture; industrial-design objects; works in glass, ceramics, and metal; rare books; periodicals; ephemera; works on paper; paintings; textiles; and medals.

Also on Miami Beach, the Jewish Museum of Florida, FIU is housed in a beautifully restored 1936 synagogue built by Miami Beach's first Jewish congregation. Considering the rich cultural influence of Miami Beach's Jewish population, the Holocaust Memorial, an inspirational sculpture and gardens located a few blocks north, underscores the strength and understanding of this city's culture. Trendy Lincoln Road is home to a Miami Beach cultural pioneer, Oolite Arts. Established in 1984 by a small group of artists on the then blighted and vacant thoroughfare, the 60,000-square-foot (5,574 hectares) campus encompasses public artists' studios and exhibition spaces. An impetus for the Road's transformation into a lively magnet for culture, entertainment and shopping, the art center has open studio spaces and bright display windows that draw many annually.

Over on the mainland, anyone seeking an overview of Miami's contemporary art scene as interpreted by young, up-and-coming artists won't want to miss the gallery surrounding the Charles Gwathmey-designed Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami (MOCA) which has garnered a reputation for innovative exhibits that capture the current state of the arts, both locally and internationally. In Coconut Grove, Vizcaya Museum and Gardens is one of Miami's greatest treasures, renowned for its Italian Renaissance architecture, priceless artwork and furnishings. Built by industrialist James Deering in 1916, the estate draws many visitors each year who stroll the property to envision how the other half lived. This important landmark underwent major improvements, including a lighter brighter courtyard canopy, enhanced lighting and completely restoring the Café and Shop, featuring delicious gourmet lunches. Located on the north side overlooking the historic swimming pool, the Café serves creative sandwiches, salads, desserts, and other refreshments, while the attached Shop offers postcards, books, jewelry, and a variety of other gift items. Coral Gables is home to the well-heeled Lowe Art Museum at the University of Miami and boasts its own well-established gallery scene. Nearby Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, one of the world’s preeminent botanical gardens, includes a nationally recognized museum of plant exploration.

The beautiful Miami Children's Museum on Watson Island, also designed by Arquitectonica, is a unique member of Miami’s arts scene. Occupying 56,500 square-feet (5,249 square meters), on two levels, the museum ranks as one of the 10 largest children's museums in the United States. Interactive exhibits include a miniature supermarket, television news studio, cruise ship and a giant sandcastle slide. The Frost Art Museum provides 46,000-square-feet (4.273 square meters) in a beautiful new building designed by, internationally recognized architect from the Hellmuth Obata and Kassabaum (HOK) firm, Yann Weymouth, at Florida International University (FIU).

Cutting Edge Arts Districts

Fashion-forward visitors must visit the Miami Design District, a trendy neighborhood north of downtown Miami that offers luxury fashion and home design shopping, beautiful architecture and chic dining experiences. Founded and owned by visionary entrepreneur Craig Robins, and L Real Estate, the district features art galleries and showrooms – many of which are open to the public. The area also boasts a plethora of fashion stores and dozens of restaurants and lounges to explore. The area includes luxury fashion brands such as Givenchy, Miu Miu, Tom Ford, Marc Jacobs, Valentino, Fendi, Dolce & Gabbana, and more. As part of a new redevelopment wave, new art installations by John Baldessari and The Buckminster Fuller Institute have joined the existing installations by Zaha Hadid and Marc Newson. A must-stop is the De la Cruz Contemporary Art Space, privately funded by Carlos and Rosa de la Cruz. This space serves as an extension of their home, where for over 25 years they have shared their collection with the public. The center provides education and awareness in the visual arts.

The neighboring Wynwood Arts District is home to dozens of museums, galleries, warehouses and exhibition spaces, including the Margulies Collection, which is renowned for its amazing photography and contemporary art exhibitions. This artsy neighborhood is also home to the amazing Wynwood Walls, an open-air ticketed based museum dedicated to cutting-edge contemporary urban murals, with regularly scheduled musical performances. Open seven days a week, and free to the public, the Bakehouse Art Complex provides emerging and mid-career artists with the opportunity to creatively explore and develop their artistic endeavors. This creative center gives art lovers the rare opportunity to meet a talented community of over 60 contemporary artists representing more than 16 countries – all working in every imaginable art form.

Both the Design and Wynwood districts host gallery nights monthly, with locals and visitors passing back and forth between the adjacent neighborhoods to explore the latest art trends. In the nearby Allapattah neighborhood, the Rubell Museum houses one of the world's most important and largest private collections of contemporary art, with over 1,500 pieces spanning several decades, from well-known artists such as Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring and Damien Hirst to Jeff Koons, Cindy Sherman, Kara Walker and Andy Warhol.

All the World's a Stage

Performance reigns supreme throughout all of Greater Miami. One of the destination's oldest companies, since 1941, the Florida Grand Opera has been producing five grand operas per year, featuring the finest guest performers in classic stories of passion and beauty. On the other end of the spectrum, the Fillmore Miami Beach at Jackie Gleason hosts Broadway touring productions, children's theater, concerts, comedy and dance performances.

Notable music series take place throughout the year, ranging from Festival Miami, classical music events presented by the University of Miami's School of Music to Subtropics, an experimental music festival. Performance arts groups cover all genres and cultural backgrounds, from Teatro Avante to Jamaica Awareness, Dance Now! Ensemble, Momentum Dance, and Ballet Flamenco La Rosa, to the innovative City Theatre; which presents an annual short play format called Summer Shorts.

Other important performance venues in Miami include the James L. Knight Center, a popular downtown concert hall, the state-of-the-art American Airlines Arena at Bayfront Park and the Gusman Center for the Performing Arts, a landmark architectural treasure in downtown Miami. The historic Lyric Theater, built in Overtown in 1915, represented the apex of African- American entertainment and social life in its prime, while Miami Beach's landmark Colony Theater serves as the home to Miami New Drama.

Artsy Hotels

When travelers think of hotels and art in Miami, they often think of the Art Deco District, featuring a colorful palette of Art Deco buildings that are true works of art. However, more and more hotels are boasting renowned art collections inside. The Sagamore features a wide array of contemporary art – from stairwell murals and garden videos to photography. The Faena Hotel on Miami Beach is home to an extensive collection of art and showcases an artist in residence program all year long through the Faena Art. Each quarter the InterContinental®, Miami Digital Arts Program features the work of a new local Miami artist on the digital walls, pods, and also on the building’s exterior, while the Betsy Hotel in South Beach inspires creativity with their Writer’s Room, allowing emerging writers, artists and thought leaders a space to create, develop their craft and share their work through community programs.

The St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort & Residences boasts a collection of new and established artists – both locally and internationally renowned. Kimpton’s EPIC Hotel in downtown Miami takes art appreciation to another level with its in-house multi-million-dollar art collection, featuring works by such renowned international and local. Kimpton’s other property, the Surfcomber, features a creative assortment of art procured via “treasure hunts” around Miami, such as wood sculptures made from salvaged downed trees in Florida, sweet little decks with chic porch-style furnishings from rural Italy, Spain and Miami, and a pasture with life-sized sculptures of cows and sheep. The Four Seasons Miami boasts a $3 million Latin American contemporary art collection, including paintings, sculptures, prints and photography displayed throughout the hotel. Upon arrival, visitors are greeted in the lobby by two towering bronze sculptures, Adam and Eve, by Colombian Fernando Botero. The hotel also boasts another Botero masterpiece, Seated Woman, which weighs 1,985 pounds (900 kilograms). Nearby, the Conrad Miami celebrates art with a series of rotating and renowned art exhibits from various local, national and international artists. The W South Beach features the work of leading artists for visitors to savor, from photography and sculptures to paintings.

The Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau (GMCVB) is an independent not-for-profit sales and marketing organization whose mission is to attract visitors to Greater Miami and the Beaches for leisure, business and conventions. For a vacation guide, visit our website at www.MiamiAndBeaches.com or call 1-888-76-Miami (US/Canada only) or 305-447-7777. To reach the GMCVB offices dial 305-539-3000.  Meeting Planners may call 1-800-933-8448 (US/Canada only) or 305-539-3071 or visit www.MiamiMeetings.com.