Visitors to Miami with agendas beyond the perfect poolside mojito have never been disappointed exploring the city's lively arts scene. While great beaches, perfect weather and a sizzling nightlife have earned Miami its status as the world's favorite fun-in-the-sun playground, the city 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 Miami molds itself into a 21st century arts mecca, the most renowned architects of our era, including Cesar Pelli, Robert A.M. Stern, Arquitectonica and Arata Isozaki, are changing the city's face.
Case in point is the dazzling New World Symphony Center, designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Frank Gehry. This jaw-droppingly 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 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 Carnival Symphony Hall, the 2,400-seat Sanford and Dolores Ziff Ballet Opera House, and a 200-seat black box Studio Theatre. Four nationally esteemed companies are in residence: the Concert Association of Florida, Florida Grand Opera, Miami City Ballet and the New World Symphony. A major destination for visitors and residents alike, the Center has served as an important force in revitalization efforts in downtown Miami.
A new $44 million South Miami-Dade Cultural Center opened in 2011 on six acres (2.4 hectares) of waterfront property in Cutler Ridge. 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.
Underscoring Miami's growing stature as one of the world's preeminent centers for art culture is Art Basel Miami Beach, which has became 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 will take part, showcasing works by more than 2,000 artists of the 20th and 21st centuries. 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 objets 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 close to 55,000 arts lovers to the Wynwood Arts District, well as 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, tours, lectures, featured country sections and numerous social activities that attract collectors from throughout the US, 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. Those who miss the festival have a better chance of catching the Coconut Grove Art Stroll, a free public art festival that brings together more than 40 local and international artists, musicians, dancers and food purveyors on the first Saturday night of every month. Also in February is the Original Miami Beach Antique Show, the world's largest indoor antique show with more than 800 established dealers from 22 different countries. Art Wynwood, Art Miami's new sister show recently solidified a position on the International Contemporary Art Fair calendar with its inaugural show in 2012. The annual fair take place annually during President's Day Weekend, offering innovative paintings, photography, sculpture, art video and new media, conceptual art and urban street art. Arteaméricas, held in March, has become the world's premier Latin American art far. It features 50 leading galleries and more than 300 artists from around the Americas and Spain, and showcasing the latest trends in paintings, sculpture and multimedia. Renowned fairs such as these serve as a measure of Miami’s art pulse.
On the music front, Miami pulses with life. The live music scene is better than ever, celebrated each February during Miami Live Music Month (www.MiamiLiveMusicMonth.com), featuring special events and discounts at diverse venues. 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" every third Friday, 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 July, blasting Greater Miami with sounds from Africa, the Carribbean, 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.
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 Greater 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. On the second Saturday of each month, Art South hosts an 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 artwork from world-renowned artists, its corridors filled with stunning murals, paintings, mobiles, photographs, mosaics and intricately designed interior spaces.
Miami’s museums are diverse and renowned, and each May they provide special offers for Miami Museum Month (www.MiamiMuseumMonth.com), including buy one get one free passes.
Miami’s arts and culture renaissance is also evidenced by Museum Park, a state-of-the-art, environmentally friendly bayfront facility that is future home of the renowned Miami Science Museum, the Historical Museum of Southern Florida and the new Miami Art Museum (MAM), the latter of which currently exhibits and collects Western Hemisphere works of art from 1940 to present. The 29-acre grounds, located at what is now Bicentennial Park, will include gardens and sculpture installations that the public can enjoy for free. This location is also where Cirque du Soleil comes each year with their latest jaw-dropping shows.
One of the most striking venues, the Bass Museum of Art on Miami Beach, tripled its exhibition space after extensive expansion by world-renowned architect Arata Isozaki. Now, the Museum's large collection of European painting, sculpture, and textiles from the Renaissance to the present can be properly showcased, while important large-scale outside exhibits can also be mounted. A one-of-a-kind cultural gem, the jewel box Wolfsonian-FIU is located in the heart of South Beach's Art Deco District in an historic landmark building. Owned by Florida International University (FIU), the museum is home to the Mitchell Wolfson Jr. collection, a comprehensive survey of the art of design. Consisting of more than 70,000 artifacts including furniture; industrial design objects; glass, ceramics, and metalwork; rare books; periodicals; ephemera; works on paper; paintings; textiles; and medals primarily of North American and European origin, the works date from 1885–1945.
Also on Miami Beach, the Jewish Museum of Florida 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, Art Center/South Florida. 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 42 open to the public artists' studios and four 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 thousands annually. ArtCenter/South Florida is launching its first monthly Lincoln Road Gallery Walk August 1, 2012, giving visitors the chance to visit more than 40 artists in their studios.
Anyone seeking an overview of Miami's contemporary art scene as interpreted by young, up-and-coming artists won't want to miss the galleries surrounding the Charles Gwathmey-designed Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in North Miami. The last Friday of each month is Gallery Night in North Miami, where a concentration of exciting young exhibitors, including Ambrosino, Leonard Tachmes Gallery and T. Curtsnoc Gallery stay open late for legions of wine-sipping arts supporters, while MoCa hosts monthly jazz concerts. The museum 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 recently underwent major improvements, including a lighter brighter courtyard canopy, enhanced lighting and completely restoring the Café and Shop. 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 -- home to the well-heeled Lowe Art Museum at the University of Miami -- boasts its own well-established gallery scene. Gables Gallery Night takes place the first Friday of each month, when galleries open their doors and ply visitors with wine and cheese while they peruse Latin masters and contemporary icons. A trolley and comprehensive map help transport gallery-goers from space to space. 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 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. Nearby in South Beach, the new World Erotic Art Museum (WEAM) in South Beach is for adults only, featuring erotic paintings, sculptures and ceramic artifacts. The Frost Art Museum recently expanded to 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.
The Dezer Collection Car Museum & Event Center features 1,200 Classics, including several Batmobiles dating back to the 1966 TV series as well as 80 other Hollywood vehicles that appeared on screen. It also houses the largest James Bond vehicle collection in the world, including submarines, airplanes, helicopters and numerous cars equipped with all the gadgets sure to impress film and car fans alike.
Cutting Edge Arts Districts
More galleries that warrant attention are located within Miami's Design District, a unique community just north of downtown Miami, that is fast becoming the center of the home furnishings and interior design industry in South Florida -- all uniquely open to the public. A number of excellent galleries have chosen to locate within the synergistic environment created by the myriad furniture and design showrooms that line the streets. Notable galleries include Bernice Steinbaum, Diaspora Vibe Gallery, the Moore Space and Barbara Gillman Gallery.
The neighboring Wynwood Arts District is home to dozens of museums, galleries, warehouses and exhibition spaces, including MOCA at Goldman Warehouse, which features art from the personal collection of urban visionary and South Beach pioneer Tony Goldman, who is largely credited with the transformation of the neighborhood. Nearby, the Rubell Family Collection 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. The Margulies Collection is renowned for its amazing photography and contemporary art exhibitions, while the Zadok Gallery boasts acclaimed contemporary and modern art, with a focus on curating Chinese and other international works from master to emerging artists. This emerging neighborhood is also home to the amazing Wynwood Walls, an open air par dedicated to cutting-edge museum quality contemporary urban murals, with regularly scheduled musical performances overseen by Chief Musical Curator, Grammy Award winning musician Nestor Torres. A synergistic project here is Primary Flight, Miami's original open air museum and street level mural installation that takes place annually during Art Basel Miami Beach in December. Both the Design and Wynwood districts host gallery nights on the second Saturday of the month, with locals and visitors passing back and forth between the adjacent neighborhoods to explore the latest art trends.
All the World's a Stage
Performance reigns supreme throughout all of Greater Miami. One of the city'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.
From gospel concerts at local churches to al fresco jazz performances on Lincoln Road, Miami's musical and performance art groups reflect the diversity of the populace. Miami Light Project, now located at the Goldman Warehouse, is
a non-profit organization which nurtures the growth of avant garde and experimental performance in Miami, providing space, workshops and support for new works. Over the years, their Contemporary Performance Series has brought artists like Laurie Anderson, Philip Glass and Spalding Gray to Miami.
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, the Gold Coast Theatre Company, Dance Now! Ensemble, Momentum Dance, and La Rosa Flamenco Theater to the innovative Tigertail Productions; which presents an array of world music and dance artists.
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 recently reopened after extensive renovations.
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. Hotel Urbano at Brickell features seasonal art displays and a Picasso’s Happy Hour” where guests can use it as a gallery space and dine among the art. Casa Moderna Miami Hotel & Spa features a rotating art exhibit, while 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 artists as James Brown, Roberto Matta, Dario Basso, Fernando DeSzyszlo, Karina Wisniewska, Alexis Gorodine, Gye Hoon Park, and Ola Kolehmainen. 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. Surfcomber was also the host site for the second edition of Arts for a Better World, a unique international fair of more than 20 galleries showcasing works by international artists, which took place during Art Basel Miami Beach. 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 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.