Arts & Culture On A Budget

Wynwood Walls
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By: Shayne Benowitz

Dive into Miami’s vast pool of arts and cultural experiences without breaking the bank.

Miami has a wealth of arts and cultural experiences—and they’re easy to discover on a budget. From the gallery scene to the symphony orchestra and free museum admission, here’s the best way to get a taste for arts and culture in Miami on a budget.

Art Walks & Gallery Scene By Neighborhood

There’s an art walk or gallery crawl held in almost every neighborhood in Miami on a set date every month. It’s a great way to get a taste of the local art scene in a festive atmosphere. The Second Saturday Wynwood Art Walk is one of the most popular. Cruise the streets of this arts district and take in the kaleidoscopic street art starting with Wynwood Walls.

The second Saturday festivities extend north to the Design District, which is home to the new Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami, galleries and world-class private art collections. There’s also an impressive public art program and a wide variety of free activities every week, from yoga to symphony concerts. Take advantage of the free guided public art and architecture tours held regularly here.

Many of the galleries that put Wynwood on the map have dispersed to Little Haiti. Don’t miss Nina Johnson, Spinello Projects, Emerson Dorsch and Yeelen Gallery. On the third Friday of the month, the Little Haiti Cultural Center hosts Sounds of Little Haiti, an open house party filled with authentic Haitian art, music and food.

In Little Havana, Viernes Culturales takes over Calle Ocho on the final Friday of the month for a carnival-like atmosphere with food vendors, live music and galleries open late. Don’t miss the free walking tour starting at 7 p.m. from the historic Tower Theater led by Miami historian Dr. Paul George. The artist studios at the Futurama Building are also a must-see.

Institutions with Free Admission & Free Museum Days

Many of Miami’s most fascinating museums offer free admission year round or on certain days of the month. The brand new ICA, Miami opened in the Design District with the promise of free admission as a service to the community. The 37,500-square-foot museum is housed inside an ultra modern new building by a Spanish architecture firm with an impressive sculpture garden. It’s a must visit for any cultural tourist in town. Also in the Design District, the De La Cruz Collection is one of Miami’s world-class private art collections and admission is always free.

The Freedom Tower is one of the most iconic buildings in the downtown skyline. Considered the Ellis Island of the South, it’s where Cuban refugees were processed upon arrival to the United States in the 1960s and ‘70s. Modeled after Seville, Spain’s Giralda Cathedral bell tower, the ornamental Mediterranean Revival façade stands out amongst downtown’s modern glass skyscrapers. Today, it’s home to Miami Dade College’s Museum of Art + Design with a permanent exhibit on the Cuban diaspora, as well as many thought-provoking temporary exhibitions. Admission is always free. Similarly, the Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum is housed on the campus of FIU and offers free admission.

While the landmark Perez Art Museum Miami typically charges $16 adult admission, children under six, active military and Florida K-12 educators are always free. You can also plan your visit around the Second Saturday and First Thursday free admission promotions each month. The Wolfsonian is another FIU institution and it offers free admission every Friday during extended hours from 6 to 9 p.m. This is often paired with special programming.

Art Parks

Museum Park anchors both PAMM and the neighboring Frost Science Museum overlooking Biscayne Bay for a picturesque way to experience both institutions. Take a stroll through the park and explore the sculptures and public art installations.

In South Beach, the New World Symphony’s Soundscape Park provides an incredible cultural experience with their Wallcast Concert series and movie screenings. The landmark building by star architect Frank Gehry features a 7,000 square-foot wall where symphony performances are simulcast for an audience to enjoy under the stars absolutely free. They also screen movies on Wednesday evenings, making it the perfect opportunity to pack a picnic under the stars for some entertainment.

While the landmark Perez Art Museum Miami typically charges $16 adult admission, children under six, active military and Florida K-12 educators are always free. You can also plan your visit around the Second Saturday and First Thursday free admission promotions each month. The Wolfsonian is another FIU institution and it offers free admission every Friday during extended hours from 6 to 9 p.m. This is often paired with special programming.

Literary Touchstones

Miami is home to one of the country’s top indie bookstores, Books & Books. With outposts in South Beach, Coral Gables and downtown at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, the bookstore hosts author events and readings almost every night of the week. Founder Mitchell Kaplan is also responsible for Miami’s annual Miami International Book Fair held every November.

Another alternative for the literary set is Bookleggers Library, a non-profit mobile library for the community that throws events and parties at various locations, like bars and museums, throughout the year. They encourage patrons to bring books to exchange and allow everyone to take home one book for free, charging $2 for each additional book.

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