Best Museum Miami 2011 - Coral Gables Museum
285 Aragon Ave.
Coral Gables, FL 33134
Readers' Choice: Bass Museum
The last thing you think you'd want to see in our-shit-don't-stink and don't-park-pickup-trucks-overnight-in-our-city Coral Gables is a museum celebrating how wonderful, rich, and cultural the City Beautiful is (even the town's moniker is annoyingly narcissistic). But you'd be wrong. Turns out the recently opened Coral Gables Museum, which was built in the city's old police and fire station, has exactly what the Gables so often tries to fabricate: legitimate history and great architecture. Built as part of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) in 1939, the museum boasts a coral-rock façade and architectural details, such as busts of two real-life Gables firefighters, on par with the most ornate buildings in the area. And even better are the historical exhibits on display inside a structure that itself tells the story of the city's rise to prominence — which wasn't always pretty. As well as housing firemen and fuzz, the building also held the city's first court, witnessed the murder of a police officer, and suffered through a fire that almost killed prisoners. How's that for history? After the police and fire departments relocated to a larger and uglier structure in 1975, the building went through a number of uses before city officials realized it would best serve as a museum. They added a 3,000-square-foot wing and a 5,000-square-foot plaza, which will feature traveling exhibits and open-air concerts, respectively. The museum's location, adjacent to Books & Books and across the street from the new Coral Gables Art Cinema, might make this block the single most culturally significant spot in South Florida.