Miami Art Museums Alliance: A Unified Voice for Miami's Art Scene

Slowly but surely, Miami's getting there. We can be quite critical of a lot of the downright Flori-duh stuff that happens within the Magic City; from shortsighted politicking to local yokels, we have no shortage of the strange, the bizarre, and the downright counterproductive preventing this city from becoming a compelling destination beyond whatever cocaine cowboy/Miami Vice-era appeal South Beach tries to retain. The building blocks are there.

Thankfully, the directors of seven of Miami's art museums have come together and formed the Miami Art Museums Alliance (MAMA), and as any doting parent would, have sought to unify their efforts fomenting art and aim to ensure that the arts continue to thrive in South Florida. Comprised of the Bass Museum, the Frost Art Museum-FIU, the Lowe Art Museum-UM, the Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami (MOCA), the Perez Art Museum Miami (PAMM), Vizcaya Museum and Gardens and the Wolfsonian-FIU, the alliance's number one objective is contributing to our community's success.

Working together, towards a common goal is a great start in making this city great. We had a chance to ask Terry Schechter, MAMA's executive director about their forming and goals.

New Times: How was the Alliance formed?

Terry Schechter: In 2010, John Wetenhall, interim director at the Miami Art Museum (now the PAMM), was new to the community and wanted to meet the directors of Miami's major art museums, so they began meeting informally. Following several casual meetings, they began to explore ways to collaborate given Miami's unique cultural make-up.

In the summer of 2012, the directors held a facilitated retreat by the Knight Foundation to look into the collaborative possibilities and found that they needed one person to oversee their meeting agendas and ensure that their collaborative efforts were on track. That is where I came in, and in November of 2013 I became the executive director.

How exactly will they work together in this endeavor?

MAMA works to engage and build audiences, explore opportunities for collaboration, and openly share information and expertise. Through a unified voice, MAMA aims to ensure that public museums are both a part of the life of all Miami-Dade residents and visitors, as well as contribute to the positive development of the community.

What kind of ramifications are expected on both the museum's and the city's arts scene?

Given the cultural ecosystem of Miami, the directors have been exploring whether aspects of their common challenges of sustainability, capacity, collection strength, programmatic reach, and audience development can be addressed collectively. By aligning their interest, we started looking into operational joint ventures, educational outreach, and audience development by building a collective profile of Miami's art museums starting with a public awareness campaign of the MAMA passport that was launched this past May.

How different is this program from the library's "Museum Pass Program?"

MAMA's passport introduces residents and visitors to seven of Miami's art museums. The library's program offers free admittance to some of the Alliance museums as well as parks and other institutions.

Does the Alliance strengthen its members when it comes to public funding, or is this strictly a non-political structure?

This is a non-political structure.

Visitors are encouraged to emulate the customs collecting of yore and get their passports stamped at all seven participating institutions for a chance to win prizes and exclusive "art experiences." Easy on the wallet and a Helluva lot easier than getting to Timbuktu.

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Abel Folgar

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