Miami Art Institutions

Miami is home to a thriving and diverse art scene. Although predominantly reputed for its stellar contemporary art collections, other institutions offer fascinating alternatives. From Paleo-Indian shell tools, to El Greco paintings, to three Kusama rooms, Miami offers a wide array of styles and eras. But Miami is always only Miami—different than any other city. There is no encyclopedic museum, nor are the institutions close to one another. It’s a complicated journey, but one well worth the cultural adventure. Do not miss Miami artists Carlos Alfonzo, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, and Purvis Young. As with everything in Miami, do not expect what you expected…and always allow time for Miami cuisine.

This page is simply a directory. All text is directly from the institutions. The only exceptions are the “Bailly Must” selections: a collection of Bailly’s subjective personal favorites. Due to the nature of rotating exhibitions, sometimes the selections are not on display.

The Bass
2100 Collins Ave
Miami Beach, FL 33139

The Bass, Miami Beach’s contemporary art museum, creates connections between international contemporary art and the museum’s diverse audiences. The Bass shares the power of contemporary art through experiences that excite, challenge and educate.
The Bass is Miami Beach’s contemporary art museum. Focusing on exhibitions of international contemporary art, The Bass presents mid-career and established artists reflecting the spirit and international character of Miami Beach. The Bass seeks to expand the interpretation of contemporary art by incorporating disciplines of contemporary culture, such as design, fashion and architecture, into the exhibition program.  The exhibition program encompasses a wide range of media and artistic points of view that bring new thought to the diverse cultural context of Miami Beach.

Bailly Must: Ugo Rondinone’s “Miami Mountain” is ironically the perfect mountain for a city with no mountains. Alluding to the traditional stacking of rocks to denote walking paths in undeveloped areas, Rondinone “creates a sense of romantic minimalism.”

The Deering Estate
16701 SW 72nd Ave
Miami, FL 33157

JW Bailly Deering Estate Walking Tour

The Deering Estate preserves the 1920s era Miami estate of Charles Deering, Chicago industrialist, early preservationist, environmentalist, art collector, philanthropist and first chairman of the International Harvester Company. Nestled along the coast in South Dade, the Deering Estate is a cultural asset and historic site listed on the National Register of Historic Places. As a 21st Century museum destination for tourists and local residents, a variety of signature events, programs, tours and classes are offered throughout the year.
At the Deering Estate, we engage the public through a diverse season of contemporary and historic exhibits, concerts, on-site Artists-in-Residence, and diverse theater lab programming for professionals and students. The Arts at the Deering Estate are an integral part of our mission as stewards of Charles Deering’s vision. We strive to include, educate, and enrich the lives of local communities through our dedication to the arts, and we welcome local, national, and international visitors and partnerships.

Bailly Must: The Deering Estate collection contains a medieval stained glass of the finest quality. “The Flight Into Egypt” is stylistically reminiscent of Sainte-Chapelle.

de la Cruz Collection
23 NE 41st St.
Miami, FL 33137

In the late 1980’s, Rosa and Carlos de la Cruz started collecting from their home which they opened to the public by appointment only. From 2001 to 2007, Rosa founded and chaired the non-profit Moore Space, a kunsthalle located in the Design District. It was then that Rosa and Carlos started planning and building the present de la Cruz Collection on 41st Street, a 30,000 square foot museum which opened to coincide with Art Basel/Miami 2009. The Collection also organizes lectures, educational scholarships in NY for high school students of DASH, educational travel to Europe for college students of New World School of the Arts, and summer workshops for grade school children.
The de la Cruz Collection is a private museum and is not government funded.

Bailly Must: The de la Cruz is the best place to experience the work of Felix Gonzalez-Torres (pictured above). Viewers are invited to actually take a part of Gonzalez’s work with them, selecting a paper from one of the piles for free.


Doral Contemporary Art Museum – DORCAM
5775 NW 84th Ave
Doral, FL 33166

DORCAM (Doral Contemporary Art Museum) is a catalyst for learning, creativity, and community building. We accomplish this mission through the integration of an art + industry approach comprised of contemporary art exhibitions, educational programs, and community partnerships.

DORCAM inquires and adapts to the developing definitions of art. We propose a museum in an industrial setting, like no other in South Florida; an inspiring and innovative audience-centered facility. We aim to be an essential site for lifelong dialogue and exchange, establishing innovative ways to engage the public.


Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum
Modesto Maidique Campus
10975 SW 17th Street
Miami, FL. 33199

The Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum’s mission is to provide transformative experiences through art; collect, exhibit, and interpret art across cultures; and advance FIU’s stature as a top tier research university. One of the largest academic art museums in South Florida, the Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum provides the community with free access to world-class art that spans cultures and time periods. The museum started as a small space in FIU’s Primera Casa building in 1978. As the collection and programming grew, the university recognized the need for a dedicated museum space. The museum now resides in a beautiful 46,000 square foot building designed by Yann Weymouth and situated in the heart of FIU’s Avenue of the Arts. The museum opened its doors in 2008.
The museum presents an exhibition schedule as diverse as Miami’s population. We showcase artists from around the world and across cultures, disciplines, and genres. As a free museum, we provide our Miami community with access to a phenomenal arts education. In addition, the museum also showcases emerging and established local artists in select exhibitions throughout the year.

Bailly Must: Although not in the Frost Art Museum proper, Carlos Alfonzo’s “Brainstorm” is a monumental work by one of Miami’s defining artists. The ceramic tile mosaic on FIU’s campus can be found at the Engineering and Computer Sciences Building.

HistoryMiami Museum
101 W Flagler St
Miami, FL 33130

JW Bailly HistoryMiami Museum Walking Tour

HistoryMiami Museum, a Smithsonian Affiliate located in downtown Miami,  safeguards and shares Miami stories to foster learning, inspire a sense of place, and cultivate an engaged community. Through exhibitions, artistic endeavors, city tours, education, research, collections and publications, HistoryMiami Museum works to help everyone understand the importance of the past in shaping Miami’s future. HistoryMiami Museum connects people by telling the stories of Miami’s communities, individuals, places and events.
HistoryMiami now operates one of the largest private, regional history organizations in the southeastern United States.  The museum’s collections include more than 37,000 three-dimensional artifacts that cover everything from prehistoric archaeological finds to 20th century Afro-Cuban folk art.  HistoryMiami’s Archives and Research Center collection, one of the most important in the state, includes over one million historical images.  The museum’s permanent exhibition, Tropical Dreams: A People’s History of South Florida, presents 10,000 years of South Florida history.  In addition, HistoryMiami offers a robust schedule of temporary exhibitions each year on subjects important to the community.

Bailly Must: It’s not a pleasant work, but it’s an important one. The “White Passengers Seat From Front” artifact in the trolley serves as an important reminder of the history of dehumanization in the USA.

Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami
61 NE 41st St
Miami, FL 33137

The Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami (ICA Miami) is dedicated to promoting continuous experimentation in contemporary art, advancing new scholarship, and fostering the exchange of art and ideas throughout the Miami region and internationally. Through an energetic calendar of exhibitions and programs, and its collection, ICA Miami provides an important international platform for the work of local, emerging, and under-recognized artists, and advances the public appreciation and understanding of the most innovative art of our time. The museum is deeply committed to providing open, public access to artistic excellence by offering year-round free admission.

Bailly Must: The ICA’s Kusama, “All the Eternal Love I Have for the Pumpkins” is a powerful experience, particularly because the institution controls access to preserve the integrity of the experience.

Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU
301 Washington Avenue
Miami Beach, Florida 33139
Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU

The Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU (JMOF-FIU) is the only museum dedicated to telling the story of more than 250 years of Florida Jewish history, arts and culture, with a growing collection of more than 100,000 items. It is located in the trendy SoFi area of South Beach at 301 Washington Avenue. The Museum is housed in two restored historic buildings that were once synagogues for Miami Beach’s first Jewish congregation. The original synagogue was built in 1929, and the second, built in 1936, was designed by Art Deco architect Henry Hohauser and features 80 stained-glass windows, a copper dome, and a marble bimah.

Bailly Must: The stained glass inside the old synagogue creates a unique luminosity. One panel in particular is of historic interest. It bears the inscription “Generous Contributor Meyer Lansky.” Lansky was linked to organized crime throughout the twentieth century.

Lowe Art Museum
1301 Stanford Dr
Miami, FL 33146

An integral part of the University of Miami, the Lowe Art Museum offers its diverse audiences opportunities and resources for engaging with contemporary culture through 5,000 years of human creativity. The Lowe touches lives and builds communities by serving as a laboratory for learning, a place for engagement and enrichment, and a site for self-discovery.
The Museum’s Permanent Collection represents five millennia of human creativity on every inhabited continent. All collection objects are works of fine art or culturally significant archaeological/ethnographic material. In addition, the Museum maintains a collection of public sculpture installed throughout the University of Miami’s Coral Gables campus on behalf of its parent institution. 

Bailly Must: The Lowe has a true Master’s work. El Greco’s “Christ Carrying the Cross” is the best painting you will see in Miami. Notice the dramatic lighting and painterly texture.

Margulies Collection
591 NW 27th St
Miami, FL 33127

The Margulies Collection at the Warehouse is a nonprofit institution located in a 50,000 square foot retro-fitted warehouse in the Wynwood Arts District of Miami. The Warehouse presents seasonal exhibitions from the collection of renowned collector Martin Z. Margulies as well as educational programs, special exhibitions and an international loan program. The Warehouse is operated and funded by the Martin Z. Margulies Foundation, a thirty-year resource for the study and enjoyment of the visual arts.
In 1998, Martin Z. Margulies along with his longtime curator Katherine Hinds began looking for a suitable space to display the growing collection of photography, video and installation works, and sculpture of the Margulies Contemporary Art Collection. In 1999, the first phase of the Margulies Collection at the Warehouse opened to the public with an event to benefit the Lowe Museum at the University of Miami. After a series of expansions, the Warehouse now comprises 50,000 square feet of exhibition space with set hours each week. The Warehouse is open to the public October–April, during which time we welcome thousands of students and visitors from all over the world.

Bailly Must: The powerful presence of Magdalena Abakanowicz’s “Hurma” is accentuated by the professional installation of the work. It has room to exist in its own space. Stand aline in silence and think of the lost generations of humanity.


Museum of Art and Design at MDC
600 Biscayne Blv Miami, FL 33132

The Museum of Art and Design is Miami Dade College’s flagship institution dedicated to the presentation and exhibition of visual art and design, housed within the National Historic Landmark Freedom Tower in Downtown Miami. MOAD at MDC provides its patrons and visitors access to unique cultural, historical, and educational exhibitions that enrich the greater community while building and preserving an expansive permanent art collection, Freedom Tower archives, and newly established design collection.

The mission of MOAD at MDC is to provide open, critical, and collaborative frameworks for artistic experimentation and interdisciplinary risk-taking that explores the intersections of art, design, and other art forms with cultural action. MOAD advances Miami Dade College’s core values, contributing to the intellectual life of the college, engaging students and audiences from the community and the world beyond.

Bailly Must: The structure of The Freedom Tower is something to behold in itself. Based on the Giralda Bell Tower in Sevilla, this tower served as a processing center for thousands of Cuban immigrants. It is known as the Ellis Island of the South.


The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA)
770 NE 125th street
North Miami, FL 33161

The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) is dedicated to making contemporary art accessible to diverse audiences – especially underserved populations – through the collection, preservation and exhibition of the best of contemporary art and its art historical influences.

The Museum of Contemporary Art expanded from the original Center of Contemporary Art, which was inaugurated in 1981 in a modest single gallery space. The Museum opened a new building in 1996 designed by Charles Gwarthmey of GSNY, who worked in conjunction with Miami firm Gelabert-Navia in the creation of the space. The museum is a site for discovering new artists, contemplating the work of contemporary masters, and learning about our living cultural heritage.

Bailly Must: Interactive, multidisciplinary, and vibrant, the work of the TM Sisters (Natasha & Monica Lopez de la Victoria) captures an essence of Miami.


Perez Art Museum Miami (PAMM)
1103 Biscayne Blvd.
Miami, FL 33132

Our mission is to be a leader in the presentation, study, interpretation, and care of international modern and contemporary art, while representing Miami-Dade and cherishing the unique viewpoint of its peoples. Through our exhibitions and programs, we aim to encourage everyone to see art as an incentive for genuine human interaction, communication, and exchange.

Visit Miami’s flagship art museum, and learn about modern and contemporary, international art at Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM). Exhibitions highlight Miami’s diverse community and pivotal geographic location at the crossroads of the Americas. In addition to exploring the galleries, visitors can: enjoy waterfront dining at Verde restaurant; shop a unique selection of art books, furnishings and handmade items at the museum’s gift store; and take in the spectacular views of Biscayne Bay and the elaborate hanging gardens. Designed by Pritzker Prize winning architects Herzog & de Meuron, PAMM provides an educational and civic forum for the County’s residents and visitors alike.

Bailly Must: “Penetrable BBL Blue 2/8” by Jesús Rafael Soto is probably the most photographed and popular artwork in Miami. This is because Soto immerses and transports the viewer. Soto’s own words describe this: “My goal was to create the effect of having the individual and the world in a different spot than they were initially because they’ve both been absorbed by one another. The only thing that’s left is the perceptual impression of fullness.”


Rubell Museum
1100 NW 23 ST
Miami, FL 33127

For more than 50 years we have been on an incredible mission: searching for new art and art that has been overlooked. Now, with the opening of the new Rubell Museum, we will be able to share the remarkable range of art we fell in love with along the way,” stated Mera Rubell. “Rather than presenting a single narrative or survey, we wanted to let the many voices that contribute to contemporary art speak for themselves and with each other. In retracing our steps, we hope visitors will discover, as we did, that creativity thrives where artists energize each other’s practices, and wrestle with shared issues and artmaking in new ways.

Bailly Must: The Miami Artists Trifecta (Bailly subjective) is complete at the Rubell Museum. The incredible collection of Purvis Young enables viewers to appreciate his expressive handling of paint.


Vizcaya Museum and Gardens
3251 South Miami Ave. 
Miami Fl. 33129

Experience Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, a breathtaking Gilded Age estate on Biscayne Bay surrounded by ten acres of formal gardens, a mangrove shoreline and rockland hammock. Be inspired by Vizcaya’s natural beauty, connect with Miami’s past and discover this unique cultural gem. A National Historic Landmark, Vizcaya offers an experience to delight your senses.

Bailly Must: The stained glass in the south facing loggia creates an effect of luminosity and color that is quite moving. The glass wall also contains the two different symbols of Vizcaya—the Spanish caravel and the seahorse (Bailly votes seahorse).


The Wolfsonian FIU
1001 Washington Avenue
Miami Beach, FL 33139

Rooted in the greatest century of growth and change humanity has ever known—1850 to 1950—The Wolfsonian traces the odyssey from agrarian to urban, colonial empires to Cold War superpowers, the first spike of the Transcontinental Railroad to the advent of television.

With more than 200,000 objects, our collection contains a vast universe of ideas: household appliances that sped the pace of work; designs that bridged cultures; architectural plans fueled by ambition; and propaganda that helped turn the tides of war. Our core focus is material from Europe and the United States, extending to regions of Latin America, Asia, and Africa.

Bailly Must: South Beach is Art Deco and Art Deco is South Beach. The Frozen Fountain relief sculpture in the lobby of the Wolfsonian is the best example in Miami that proves that Art Deco is not only an architectural style.

Back to JW Bailly Lectures

John William Bailly  & Sofia Guerra 03 April 2020


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