Explore Art & Culture In The Miami Design District

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By: Josie Gulliksen

Nestled within three blocks in the Miami Design District are some of the most elite names in the fashion world. You’ll be surrounded by haute couture from designers such as Dior, Louboutin, Yves Saint Laurent, Tom Ford, Givenchy, Burberry, Harry Winston, Louis Vuitton, Cartier and Armani — and for the discriminating watch lover, Omega and Rolex. Sometimes, Christian Louboutin’s window displays resemble public art, they’re so elaborate.

In addition to designer fashion, the Miami Design District has an art scene that has grown over the years to include galleries, museums, parking garages that double as public art, monthly music programs and family art days.

Institute of Contemporary Art
Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami (ICA) is the go-to gallery for local and emerging artists

Museums and Galleries

The Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami (ICA) is the neighborhood’s premier museum, showcasing contemporary art by local, emerging and under-recognized artists. Whether you’re an art connoisseur or just a mild enthusiast, ICA’s ever-evolving rotating exhibitions by renowned artists such as Purvis Young are worth seeing. Step into the Sculpture Garden to encounter contemporary works in a variety of mediums including stainless steel, aluminum and even found objects.

Locust Projects, one of the Design District’s most established venues, was founded in 1998 as an alternative art space. Through commissioned exhibitions and projects, artist residencies and public programs, Locust Projects presents new art and ideas in its incubator space. As Miami’s longest running nonprofit alternative art space, it is the art pioneer of the neighborhood.

Another mainstay in the Miami Design District is Swampspace, founded in 2005 by Oliver Sanchez. This gallery presents visual and performance art, showcasing everything from work by students from New World School of the Arts and Design Architecture Senior High (DASH), to the work of well-known artists like Bhakti Baxter and Daniel Arsham. Swampspace is the place to go when you’re seeking an unconventional art experience that’s not the gallery norm.

Fly’s Eye Dome
The Fly’s Eye Dome sits in the heart of the Design District

Art Tours

The best way to enjoy the many public works of art around the Miami Design District is to take a free guided tour. They take place twice a month, on Saturdays at 5 p.m. For an hour, an art critic, journalist or educator leads you through the neighborhood, showcasing public art and architectural highlights. The Fly’s Eye Dome by architect and inventor Buckminster Fuller and French artist Xavier Veilhan’s larger-than-life fiberglass sculpture of architect Le Corbusier, both located in Palm Court, are regular stops on the tour, as are various parking garages that are covered in murals. An open-air space on the corner of Northeast 40th Street and 1st Avenue has featured a red solo cup sculpture and other whimsical public art pieces.

Elastika, created by famed architect Zaha Hadid, is a site-specific installation in the historic 1921 Moore Building. A series of connectors are installed between the four-story building’s layered mezzanines, making this installation look like stretched chewing gum suspended in mid-air.

The public art landscape in the Miami Design District is an ever-changing façade, and these public art tours are the perfect way to discover what’s new in the neighborhood.

Performance Series

Monthly live music at Palm Court is a part of the art scene in the Design District. Each Friday night in the fall months through December, musical artists take the stage, sometimes with the backing of the Miami Symphony Orchestra, whose Maestro, Eduardo Marturet, produces the program along with Emilio Estefan. Performers have included the queen of disco, Gloria Gaynor; the Dominican singer, Johnny Ventura; and reggae legends, The Wailers.

Gallery in the Miami Design District
Explore the many galleries in the Miami Design District

Family Day

The monthly Family Day event is a great way to bring the entire family together to experience art in the Design District. On the third Sunday of every month in the third floor of Palm Court, ICA Miami hosts a variety of interactive art activities. The monthly theme changes according to the season, so expect Mother’s Day activities in May, Father’s Day activities in June and holiday activities from October through December. Past themes have included short films for kids and art-making sessions based on ICA’s current exhibits.

There is always something happening in the Miami Design District — be sure to check out its comprehensive calendar of events. You will undoubtedly find many activities that spark your interest!

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