Architecture, Art and Culture
Miami – Architecture, Art and Culture
by Jon Simpson
Miami had never been known as a cultural mecca as far as art and museums were concerned. Though that is now changing, and Miami is fast becoming the darling of the art world thanks to offerings such as the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Miami Art Museum, the Miami Symphony Orchestra and Switzerland's stunning and critically acclaimed Art Basel which comes to Miami for a week every December.
It is now safe to say that world-class exhibitions can be found in Miami to complement its existing diversity and cultural heritage. It is not a question of finding Miami's culture, but deciding which culture you want to experience in this international city. Will it be Little Havana, Little Haiti or simply a little Art Deco?
The Arts, Museums & Theatres
Miami has a host of big-name museums. The Wolfsonian specializes in propaganda and decorative arts, with exhibits that are both profound and peculiar. There are more 80,000 European and American pieces from murals and poster art to architectural examples.
South Beach may be synonymous with sun, sand, beautiful people and nightlife, but it's also home to a world-class arts community. Another well-kept secret is the Bass Museum of Art in South Beach's Art Deco district. It claims the title of the most comprehensive collection in the region, cataloguing works ranging from old masters to contemporary photographers.
The Miami Children's Museum offers children the opportunity to explore their imaginations through educational play and fantastic interactive exhibitions while the Miami Art Museum features an eclectic mix of modern and contemporary works by such artists as Eric Fischl, Max Beckmann, Jim Dine, and Stuart Davis. Rotating exhibitions span ages and styles, and often focus on Latin American or Caribbean artists. Lincoln Road is home to Britto Central, showcasing the Neo-Pop work of celebrated Miami artist, Romero Britto.
It is not wonder the international arts community flock to Miami Beach each December for Switzerland's stunning and highly acclaimed Art Basel.
The Miami Holocaust Memorial is a heart-wrenching memorial that should be seen. The powerful centrepiece, Kenneth Triester's Sculpture of Love & Anguish, depicts victims of the concentration camps crawling up a giant yearning hand stretching up to the sky, marked with an Auschwitz number tattoo. The reflecting pool tells the story of the Holocaust. Inside the centre of the memorial is a representation that is one of the most solemn and moving tributes to the millions of Jews who lost their lives in the Holocaust. Walk through an open hallway lined with photographs and the names of concentration camps and their victims.
For live performances, head to the Jackie Gleason Theatre in a historic Art Deco building, just minutes from Edgewater South Beach. It's intimate and hosts shows by the likes of the Miami City Ballet and the Miami Beach Broadway Series.
When you take flights to Miami you'll notice that even Miami International Airport (MIA) is being utilised to show a dynamic collection at unique artworks from world-renowned artists! The airport's corridors are filled with stunning murals, paintings, photographs, mosaics and intricately designed spaces. MIA has both permanent and rotating exhibitions. Be sure to take some time out away from the airport crowds to appreciate the surrounding art.
Miami Architecture & Landmarks
Miami has the largest collection of Art Deco buildings in the world.
Starting in the 1920s, Miami became a playground for the rich and famous who travelled there to escape the cold, icy northern winters. Middle-class Americans followed in the coming years, when the need for more accommodation finally became apparent.
Influenced by the Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs et Industriels Modernes, held in Paris in 1925, architects turned to Art Moderne, better known as Art Deco, for an affordable, consistent architectural style. And thanks goodness they did!
Fabricated from cheap materials, the buildings gained their elegance and personality from beautiful flourishes like rounded corners, eyebrow ledges, glass blocks and nautical embellishments, not to mention the soft, candy-like pastels they were painted in. The result was an enchanting collection of hotels that made ordinary visitors feel special.
Over time, the area lost its shimmer, until the 1980s when mass restoration began with many joining to champion the cause. Today, South Beach has the distinction of being the country's first 20th century district on the National Register of Historic Places, with more than 800 buildings of significance.
Walk along Collins and Washington avenues to see stunning architectural examples, or go to the Art Deco District Welcome Centre and take the 90-minute guided or audio self-guided walk of the 800 or so classic buildings that were saved.
Vizcaya Museum and Gardens is a breath-taking Italian Renaissance masterpiece built by International Harvester magnate James Deering in 1914. The villa showcases 34 rooms of furniture or the period and decorative art from the 15th through the 19th centuries. The landscaped and tranquil gardens are no less exceptional.
Coral Gables' Venetian Pool is an 800,000-gallon freshwater pool surrounded by Spanish style buildings, garden patio, grottos, vine covered porticos and loggias. See for yourself why this gorgeous spot is also on the National Register of Historic Places.
About the Author:
A true travel author, Jon loves nothing more than taking exciting journeys across the globe waiting for the next piece...