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Best Art Museum
Museum of Contemporary Art
770 NE 125th St., North Miami
Celebrating its 15th anniversary, the Museum of Contemporary Art has always had a mission to inspire cultural consciousness among local audiences -- the younger the better. Museum director Bonnie Clearwater is a firm believer in arts education and has expanded MOCA's outreach programs to include a museum-studies partnership with Miami-Dade County Public Schools, directly affecting more than 7,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade. The museum also operates an after-school junior docent program in which students guide peers on tours of exhibits and take journalism workshops to learn to write creatively about art. But Clearwater has also made a name for herself with an eye for discovering fresh talent and giving many rising Miami artists their first museum shows. To date, she has screened the works of more than 200 locals in MOCA's celebrated festival, Optic Nerve. Also, the museum typically draws young families to enjoy free jazz concerts on its lawn every month and consistently mounts some of the most provocative and fresh exhibits during each season. Last year's blockbusters included Mark Handforth's "Rolling Stop," featuring monumental works too large for the museum walls to contain and were exhibited throughout the community, from Griffing Park to Wynwood. Ryan Trecartin's epic series of videos filmed locally, "Any Ever," was a crowd magnet, and MOCA's three-day symposium New Methods, focusing on cutting-edge artistic practices and educational exchange, drew cultural leaders from six countries. It comes as no surprise that Clearwater receives regular letters from former student interns saying that working at MOCA inspired them to pursue art degrees.