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Micky Wolfson on the Wolfsonian's New Downtown Space: "The Word Museum is Inappropriate for Miami"

It was a classic tale of a love triangle gone awry. He was married, she was in love with him, and there was another man, too. There they were, all three on the same railroad car, and as fate would have it, the marriage would soon end.

What happened next involved a hit man (hired by the scorned wife, of course) and a murder plot against Micky Wolfson. Luckily, the police at the railroad station fended off the attacker, and Wolfson lived to see many more days.

Micky Wolfson is a man who has had many adventures in his lifetime. Aside from his railroad traveling stories, from a young age, he would travel to Europe with his mother and father - and one never forgets his first trip to Paris.

Those European travels would later inspire Wolfson to begin collecting art - though he prefers the term art "preserver" rather than "collector" - and soon he would be donating his collections to create a museum. And now, the Wolfsonian-FIU has expanded beyond its South Beach home into a new space in downtown Miami.

After Wolfson gave his main collection to the Wolfsonian and Florida International University, he decided to have some fun. He wanted to put together his own study center, and that is how the Downtown location came about, he says. Part of what they do there is run a curator program: "We have students come here and do research to learn about curatorial disciplines to supply the art fairs and the galleries with professionals who can help you in curating your collection for educational purposes, or just for pleasure."

This new location is made up of three floors, two of which are complete and will be open for viewing soon, and a third floor that still needs to be sorted properly. Originally, the space was an office area for Mr. Wolfson, but he eventually procured so many pieces and stored them there that he decided to open it to the public as an educational resource. "We had a great demand from important universities across the country to see the private collection because they hadn't seen it - no one had public access to it before," says Wolfson.

It was appropriate for the Wolfsonian to hold these private viewings this week, during Art Basel Miami Beach. Wolfson knows that anyone who is anyone in the art world - curators, directors, benefactors, trustees - will be in town, and he knows they will pass by to visit.

"It's not art for art's sake," he says, adding that the new space is not a museum. "We think the word [museum] is inappropriate for Miami, which has a colorful past, but not much history. And the word 'museum' means, of course, 'the house of the muses,' and we don't think the muses have had much time to unpack and settle in here, so we call this an educational resource, or a laboratory, or a study center." (Wolfson did later mention that perhaps the new Perez Art Museum Miami will be the one to bring the muses home.)

The collection housed in this Downtown building is part of Wolfson's private artwork and it is a mix of both European and American pieces. They wanted to make sure to include bits of everything they have in their other locations (the Miami Beach one, and the Nervi, Italy) to make it as complete as possible.

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