Panel Debates Basel's Effect on Local Museums at Bakehouse on Thursday

Art Basel brought Miami's art scene to national and international prominence over the past decade. But really, what does that mean for the local museums? It has to be positive, right? The publicity, excitement, and sheer number of visitors with a cultured palette bodes well for the arts in general and museums in specific. It's a no-brainer. But are Miami's museums doing the most they can to capitalize on the situation?

Truthfully, we haven't got the foggiest. But some people who know the answers to those questions - namely the directors and curators of the museums themselves - are getting together Thursday at 7 p.m. to talk it out. The panel discussion is part of the Bakehouse Art Complex/Quarterly Panel series and this edition is titled "The Role of Miami's Museums in the Wake of Art Basel." And you're invited. Read on for details and a short Q&A with panelist Carol Damian of the Frost Art Museum.

Among the topics up for discussion are the importance of local museums

embracing contemporary art at their institutions and what their

responsibilities are to the community as cultural leaders. They'll also

talk about supporting local art organizations. It won't all be drab

administrative talk though, the panel will also discuss Bakehouse Art

Complex's "Sin!" exhibition, which panelists served as jurors for.

The panelists are a who's who of the Miami museum top administrators,

including: Carol Damian, director and chief curator at the Frost Art

Museum; Peter Boswell, assistant director and senior curator at Miami

Art Museum; Silvia Karman Cubina, executive director of the Bass Museum

of Art; Cathy Leff, director of the Wolfsonian; and Brian Dursum,

executive director at the Lowe Art Museum. Brett Sokol, former New Times

writer and current arts editor at Ocean Drive Magazine (talk about

slumming it and a bad career move. We joke!) will moderate the panel


The public is invited to attend the panel discussion but you'll have to

throw down $10 to get in (BAC members get in free). What did you

expect? These people run museums, it's their nature to charge for

admission. That's just how they do.

Carol Damian gave us a little preview of the panel discussion in a short Q & A:  

What is your impression of the effect Art Basel has had on Miami's museums?

I have to say positive - we have visitors from all over the world that

make their way to us, usually in the mornings, but after fair as well -

and of course we have a great event, Breakfast in the Park.


What is your museum, or others, doing well to capitalize on exposure of Art Basel? 

We advertise in all associated press and do lots of outreach to

publicize our events and exhibitions.   Being an official location for

our Sunday event gets us into the Basel press, and they send buses to



What could  be done better?

Doing less events, or extending the chaos by a few days - too much going

on - but I can't imagine who would step to the end of the line! 


What about the panel are you looking forward to, what will be

interesting about a meeting of the top museum people in the city? 

The fact that we are all sitting around the table and sharing our

experiences (and probably problems as well, although I hope it will stay

positive).  Do you know that we have formed a group of 7 museum

directors and we meet monthly?  It includes Bass, Vizcaya, Lowe, MAM,

MoCA, Frost, Wolfsonian directors.  It is a good story!  In fact, we met

the other night.  It gives us an opportunity to share, and to

collaborate, and look at each other's programs and resources so we can

all work together.  I think such a group is quite unique and we are all

happy to be together for a great dinner and discussion - away from our



Any other thoughts ahead of the panel discussion? 

I hope we can talk about the SINS!  Much more interesting than museum administration and its challenges.


"The Role of Miami's Museums in the wake of Art Basel" panel discussion

takes place Thursday, January 13 at 7 p.m. at the Bakehouse Art Complex

(561 NW 32nd St., Miami). To reserve seats call 305-576-2828.

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