Must-See Galleries, Museums and Cultural Events in Miami
With its design district, notable museums and countless art galleries, Miami is one of the most culturally-rich cities in the country. Check out our picks for top artsy destinations.
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Photo By: Jumaane N'Namdi
Photo By: Andres Conde
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Perez Art Museum Miami (PAMM)
It's hard to resist the critically-heralded, distinctive architecture by Pritzker Prize-winning Swiss firm Herzog & de Meuron that welcomes visitors to the Perez Art Museum Miami (PAMM). Originally known as the Miami Art Museum (MAM) when it opened to the public in 1984, the museum relocated to its current location in 2013 and was renamed PAMM to recognize art collector and philanthropist Jorge M. Perez's financial and collection gifts to the museum. PAMM focuses on contemporary art from the 20th and 21st century and aims to represent Miami’s culturally diverse population. With an impressive view of Biscayne Bay from the museum's in-house waterfront restaurants Verde and Cucuyo, the museum offers plenty of things to keep visitors busy beyond the galleries, including the PAMM Shop gift shop and regular outdoor music events. And art fans visiting Miami should also be sure to check out the Rubell Family Collection a contemporary art museum whose collection includes Kara Walker, Keith Haring, Jeff Koons and Yayoi Kusama, among many others, along with the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami, which promotes experimentation in the world of contemporary art.
If you really want to experience the unique ambiance of Miami’s art and culture scene, the Wynwood district should definitely be at the top of your list. This edgy urban district full of restored historic buildings is also home to Wynwood Walls, a vibrant, inspiring display of graffiti and street art by artists from around the world, with new murals added continually. Wynwood is also chockfull of local restaurants, art galleries and monthly art walks and has become known as a must-visit destination for fashion enthusiasts, artists and foodies.
Vizcaya Museum and Gardens in Miami
Take a trip to 1900s Italy by heading over to Vizcaya Museum and Gardens. In 1910, retired millionaire James Deering was told he needed to reside in a warm, sunny climate to assist with treating his anemia. He found his perfect respite in South Florida, where he built an Italian-inspired vacation home for himself. After Deering’s death in 1925, the home became a historical landmark that is now open to the public. During your time at Vizcaya, choose a self-guided tour, an audio tour, or a group tour with a Vizcaya guide. You can roam throughout the mansion to observe Deering's original furnishings and artwork. When you complete your tour, make sure you take some time to wander through the 10 acres of European-inspired gardens.
Art Basel, hosted in Miami, Basel and Hong Kong, is a world-class contemporary art fair that draws collectors and artists from all over the world. Galleries from North America, Europe, Latin America, Asia and Africa participate in Miami's Art Basel show, showcasing paintings, sculptures, photographs, films and exceptional installations. Pictured here are Understopped by Esteban Jefferson and Gimnasio de Boxeo by Michael Vasquez. Alongside Art Basel, the design fair Design Miami brings together a global mix of renowned designers, collectors, curators and critics to showcase exhibitions of 20th and 21st-century furniture, lighting and fixtures. The cutting-edge Pulse Art Fair held in Miami every December hosts both emerging and established galleries and artists. They recently launched Pulse360, which is a year-round community initiative focusing on different conversations and topics within the arts.
Art Deco Weekend
The Miami Design Preservation League (MDPL) created the Art Deco Weekend in 1976, and it is now the longest running free cultural festival in Miami Beach. The MDPL is a not-for-profit organization, and it preserves, protects and promotes the architectural community of Miami Beach. Each January, Art Deco Weekend includes live performances, film, crafts, art exhibitions, dog shows, food and more. With over 85 events, Art Deco Weekend is a great way to enjoy Miami's diverse culture and architecture.
At the age of six, Jumaane N’Namdi’s parents introduced him to the world of art appreciation and art collecting. According to N’Namdi, when it comes to his diverse art collection, he focuses on "three concepts: education, culture and aesthetics." If you’re in Miami and enjoy contemporary art, be sure to stop by N'Namdi Contemporary for his rotating shows or check out some of the other contemporary art galleries throughout the city. The David Castillo Gallery showcases the work of emerging and mid-career artists who often reference historical, cultural and personal identities. Founded in 1977, the Fredric Snitzer Gallery has long championed the work of contemporary Latin American artists as well as emerging and mid-career artists.
Stacy Goodman-Conde first opened her gallery in 1998 in the Miami Design District. She eventually moved to Chicago, and then moved back to Miami to open up and establish Conde Contemporary. Conde says the gallery was born from two artists, herself and her husband, Andres. "I love and respect our artists and recognize them as a special group of people, who in many ways speak a different language than the general population," Conde said. "I'm sort of their translator." Conde Contemporary specializes in narrative realism, photorealistic portraiture, surrealism and international contemporary art. Pictured here is Andres Conde's "First Blush."
Now in its 11th year, Avant Gallery presents the work of early and mid-career contemporary artists, as well as established artists, and their collections include art, photography and sculptures. They operate from three locations, which are located in Downtown Miami, the Aventura Mall and the Four Seasons Jumeirah Resort in Dubai. Pictured here is Mariano BNS's "All Day Breakfast." Avant Gallery also recently opened a restaurant in their downtown Miami location, LaMuse Café, whose menu is inspired by iconic muses in art history. Their official slogan is "Eat More Art." The de la Cruz gallery consists of an extensive contemporary collection, and organizes lectures, educational scholarships in New York for high school students and educational trips to Europe for college students.
Calle Ocho Festival
The largest Hispanic festival in the country, Calle Ocho held every March has introduced South Florida to a taste of true Cuban culture since 1978. Wander through the 20 blocks of Little Havana where the festival is held to experience to find the streets filled with music, live entertainment, international food, dancing and more. Have you ever tried arepas or tamales? If not, Calle Ocho is the place to sample not only new foods, but new Latin artists. Some of the most recognized Latin artists have made their artistic debut at Calle Ocho, including Pitbull and Niki Jam. If you’re in the area during Calle Ocho and want to experience a truly culturally-enriching experience, make sure you head over to the festival. Held in early October every year, the Miami Broward Carnival fully embraces the Caribbean culture, including Caribbean music and dance, including dancers decked out in impressive, traditional costumes.
Miami City Ballet
If you’re into all things classical, you’re in the right place. Miami is filled with orchestras, operas and one of the best ballet companies in the country. Miami City Ballet is one of the most diverse classical ballet companies in the nation, spotlighting dancers from Central and South America. When in Miami, symphony fans should check out a performance by the New World Symphony, which consists of 87 young musicians, and opera fans will love the Florida Grand Opera, one of the oldest performering arts organizations in Florida.
South Beach Wine and Food Festival
Artistry of a different sort, the South Beach Wine and Food Festival (SOBEWFF) held in Miami every February is a nationally renowned five-day event, featuring the talents of the world’s most celebrated wine and spirits creators, chefs and culinary personalities. All proceeds from the festival benefit the Florida International University’s school of hospitality. This will be the festival’s 18th year and will feature over 100 events. Stop by for the best food, drinks and educational culinary classes and seminars.