Franklin Sirmans Caps First Six Months as PAMM Director With Craig Robins Donations

Newly appointed Perez Art Museum director Franklin Sirmans capped off the first six months of his tenure with the largest donation of works in the museum's short history. Over a hundred pieces of art were donated by Design District developer Craig Robins. The move the symbolizes South Florida's budding relationship between art and design. 

“With PAMM successfully opened — on time and on budget — Franklin was brought on to guide the museum through its next phase of growth and development. A major part of that is collection building,” said Aaron Podhurst, chairman of the museum’s board of trustees. “In just six months, Franklin has already proven his effectiveness by bringing in incredible works of art that represent the unique diversity of our community.”

Along those lines are works by artists Jedediah Caesar, Patty Chang, Aïda Ruilova, and others, which form a part of a growing collection (roughly 1,800) of modern and contemporary pieces.

"The character of the donation by Craig Robins and Jackie Soffer is contemporary—most acquired within the last fifteen years," Sirmans told New Times. "And, that’s exciting to me. We’re working on a big acquisition now that comes from the opposite end of contemporaries current poles, with works defined by developments prior to the 1970s." 

In addition to the Robins donations, the museum has also recently acquired several works of art from recently mounted exhibitions by Nari Ward and Firelei Baez, as well as a film installation by Stan Douglas purchased in partnership with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The latter (on view until September 25) is set in New York in the 1970s and centers on the African origins of the era's music. 
Since Sirmans took the helm of Miami's newest art institution, he made it his mission to ensure that PAMM's curatorial endeavors reflected the community it served. The first half of 2016 saw exhibitions by African-American, Latino, and Caribbean artists — minorities typically overlooked by the traditional art establishment.

The museum is also looking to make inroads with Cuban artists and museums, fostering a cultural exchange between Miami and Havana that for the past half century remained taboo. Towards the end of April, they hosted a two-day public event titled Dialogues With Cuba that featured a group of Cuban artists and curators in conversation with their Miami peers.

As our city prepares to head into the 2016 Art Basel season, the budding ties between design and art have never been stronger. Together with the recent PAMM donations, the newly formed Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) is currently building its permanent home in the heart of the Design District, set to open in late 2017. Hotelier Alan Faena is also wrapping up construction of the Faena Arts District right across the street from the eponymous Faena Hotel on Collins and 32nd. The new building promises to support the visual arts as well as music, fashion, and design. 

While hot summer days mean fewer dates in the local art world's social calendar, the energy and excitement for next season is already palpable. The wealth of newly formed museums and cultural institutions means that PAMM will have to work even harder to stand out from the pack. 

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