10 Best Art Museums in Miami 2023 | Miami New Times

The 10 Best Art Museums in Miami

Miami's museums have turned the city into a major center for contemporary art, showcasing the best and brightest emerging artists.
Pérez Art Museum Miami's collection focuses on art from the Caribbean and Latin America.
Pérez Art Museum Miami's collection focuses on art from the Caribbean and Latin America. Photo by Amando/MannyofMiami.com
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These days, it seems like Miami's art scene is constantly changing. Since the pandemic and its accompanying flood of new residents, plenty of longstanding institutions are closing, renovating, or moving. Locust Projects moved into a larger new home in Little Haiti, with Oolite Arts set to follow in 2024. Miami-Dade College's Museum of Arts and Design has become a Museum Without Boundaries as Freedom Tower is renovated. Wynwood's Museum of Graffiti moved to new digs, while the Young at Art Museum in western Broward was forced out of its purpose-built home by financial struggles and now inhabits a storefront in Broward Mall. And a few new players are entering the scene, concentrated around the Rubell Museum in Allapattah: the immersive art center Superblue opened across the street in 2021, and franchises of New York's Museum of Sex and the Stockholm-based Fotografiska photography museum are planned for nearby.

Thanks to all this change, there seem to be more places to see art than ever before, and not just for a week in December. Miami may never be on the level of global capitals like New York or Paris, with their massive, encyclopedic collections spanning the art historical canon, but there's an upside to that: Limitations breed creativity. Miami's museum curators have turned the city into a major center for contemporary art, showing the best and brightest emerging artists and new forms of art-making from South Florida, the Caribbean, and beyond. Wherever your interests lie, you'll find something stimulating at Miami's ten best art museums and art centers.
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The Bass was renovated in 2017, expanding its exhibition space by 50 percent.
Photo by Zachary Balber

The Bass

2100 Collins Ave., Miami Beach
Though the Bass, housed in the former Miami Beach public library, occasionally dips into its collection of classical art, its primary focus is contemporary work. As soon as the museum completed a 2017 renovation that expanded its exhibition space by 50 percent, artist Ugo Rondinone filled a gallery with incredibly lifelike sad clowns and placed his iconic sculpture, Miami Mountain, outside. Since then, the Bass' curators have continually displayed an affinity for cutting-edge, conceptual art that can be as challenging as it is enthralling. The museum has given shows to rising art world stars such as Mickalene Thomas and Haegue Yang, while locals such as Cara Despain have used its spaces to mount ambitious presentations. With upcoming shows spotlighting Hernan Bas and Nam June Paik, the museum's hot streak looks to continue. Wednesday through Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission costs $15 for adults and $8 for students, youths ages 7-18, and seniors aged 65 or older.
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The Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami in the Design District is always free.
Photo by Iwan Baan

Institute of Contemporary Art Miami

61 NE 41st St., Miami
Though it raised eyebrows recently with a questionable embrace of NFT art, ICA is still a great place to see new and boundary-pushing contemporary art for free in a neighborhood where nothing comes cheap. The Design District institution continues to spotlight underappreciated artists from around the world, from Brazil's Hudnilson Jr. to the reggae-influenced paintings of Denzil Forrester. It has also given space to new voices, such as Avery Singer and Nina Chanel Abney. There's more to the ICA than just the art, however. The museum has invited some incredible musical talent to play their First Fridays performance series, from hyperpop artists like Sega Bodega to hot DJs like Galcher Lustwerk, and other events like its ICA Talks lecture series and family days. Wednesday through Sunday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission is free.
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Located on the University of Miami campus, the Lowe boasts impressive collections of traditional African and Asian art.
Photo by Douglas Markowitz

Lowe Art Museum

1301 Stanford Dr., Coral Gables
Miami's reputation in the international art scene tends to focus on the new. The Magic City is where, once a year, collectors from around the world come to scope out the cutting edge of contemporary art. But what about the old? This small museum at the University of Miami is one of the best — well, one of the only — places to see historical art from around the world. The Lowe boasts impressive collections of traditional African and Asian art and Renaissance European and Native American works. There's also an entire wing dedicated to glass artwork, and the curators also put on interesting exhibitions of contemporary artists, most recently on the Kondo family of Japanese ceramic artists. Best of all, the entire museum is free to enter. Wednesday to Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free.
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Locust Projects recently moved to its new home in Little River.
Photo by Pedro Wazzan

Locust Projects

297 NE 67th St., Miami
Technically, it's not a museum, but this long-running, artist-founded space is notable for letting artists do anything they want, short of demolishing the building — and even then, some have come close. At a Locust show, you're less likely to see paintings on the wall than you are to see paint stripped off the wall (Loriel Beltran's 2010 show) or floors excavated and filled with junk (Daniel Arsham in 2014). It let muralist Ed Young paint the phrase "It Was Only a Blowjob" on the exterior wall, and in one of the last shows in their former Design District location, Ronny Quevedo turned the place into a futsal court. The nonprofit's profoundly uncommercial spirit and willingness to give artists such free reign marks it as one of the more outsider spaces in the Miami scene, but in a city where money doesn't talk so much as it shouts and curses, that's what makes it all the more essential. Wednesday to Saturday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free.
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Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami has been punching well above its weight for years.
Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami photo

Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami

770 NE 125th St., North Miami
Plenty institutions in Miami have done well to tap into South Florida's incredible diversity, but North Miami's Museum of Contemporary Art seems to have a particular knack for doing that while simultaneously taking the art world's temperature. Three years after its retrospective of Cecilia Vicuña, the Chilean artist won the prestigious Hyundai Commission from London's Tate Modern. Its show on Lonnie Holley also came as the Alabaman experienced music industry buzz for his album Oh Me Oh My. The museum has put on stunning recent shows from Miami-raised, Haitian-American artist Didier William and iconoclastic midcentury artist Maryan. It may be small, but MOCA has been punching well above its weight for years. Wednesday noon to 7 p.m. and Thursday through Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $10 for the general public and $5 for students, seniors, and disabled visitors; free for members, children under 12, North Miami residents and city employees, veterans, and caregivers accompanying disabled visitors.
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NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale gives you several good reasons to travel north.
NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale photo

NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale

1 E. Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale
Why should you drive all the way to Broward for a single art museum? Well, first of all, you don't have to drive. The Brightline drops you off just a few blocks from NSU Art Museum in downtown Fort Lauderdale. And just because it's north of the Dade County line doesn't mean it can't compete with Miami's most prestigious institutions. Recent shows at the NSU have dipped into the museum's Haitian art collection and its extensive holdings of work from the postwar European CoBrA collective. It exhibited globally famous pop artists like Andy Warhol and Keith Haring and local artists such as Jared McGriff, Thomas Bils, and Kathia St. Hilaire have staged early solo shows there. It's also one of the few institutions in South Florida that puts on exhibitions of fashion. Tuesday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday noon to 5 p.m. Admission costs $16 for adults, $10 for seniors, $8 for military, $5 for students; free for members, NSU students, faculty, and staff, and children under 12.
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Pérez Art Museum Miami continues to be Miami's flagship art museum.
Photo by Daniel Azoulay Photography

Pérez Art Museum Miami

1103 Biscayne Blvd., Miami
PAMM has always been — and probably always will be — Miami's flagship art museum. Rather than focus on the great art of centuries past, they've always specialized in postwar and contemporary art, and in a city as trendy as Miami, displaying today's art is more appropriate than stuffing a roomful of Renaissance baubles and calling it a day. The permanent collection includes the likes of Gerhard Richter, Sam Gilliam, Rashid Johnson, and Jenny Holzer, and art from the Caribbean and Latin America is a particular focus. Many of the museum's exhibitions — and even its Stiltsville-referencing Herzog & de Meuron building — are keen on appealing to the city and reflecting its culture, such as shows dedicated to Christo and Jeanne-Claude and their landmark Surrounded Islands project in Biscayne Bay or local artists like Jason Seife. The museum has been dipping into immersive art lately, putting on a blockbuster Leandro Ehrlich retrospective and installing experiential works from Carlos Cruz-Diaz and Yayoi Kusama. Thursday 11 a.m to 9 p.m. and Friday through Monday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission is $16 for adults; $12 for youths aged 7 to 18, students, and seniors aged 62 or older; and free for children under 6, disabled visitors and caregivers, Florida educators, healthcare professionals and first responders and active U.S. military and veterans.
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For a private collection, the Rubell Museum has the kind of collection most museums would kill for.
Rubell Museum photo

Rubell Museum

1100 NW 23rd St., Miami
There's a reason everyone and their mother wants to open a museum in Allapattah nowadays. The Rubell family's massive converted warehouse on NW 23rd Street is by far the best permanent collection of art in South Florida, showcasing the family's vast collection of contemporary art from the 1960s onward. You'll find work by Jeff Koons, Sterling Ruby, and Kehinde Wiley and a shrine-like gallery for Keith Haring. All-star Japanese artists such as Takeshi Murakami and Yoshitomo Nara are well represented, as are locals like Purvis Young and Reginald O'Neal. Brand-new artworks from major contemporary artists are displayed as a part of its star-making residency program, with previous participants including Sterling Ruby, Oscar Murillo, and Alexandre Diop. The excellent library (open by appointment), adjacent high-end restaurant, and other amenities add to the museum's bona fides, and if all that's not enough, the Rubells recently opened a sister museum in Washington, D.C. Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Friday and Saturday 11:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Admission costs $15 for adults; $12 for seniors aged 65 or older; and $10 for youths 7-18 and students.
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Wilzig Erotic Art Museum is more than just a novelty.
Wilzig Erotic Art Museum photo

Wilzig Erotic Art Museum

1205 Washington Ave., Miami Beach
WEAM is not a sideshow or a novelty attraction. Founded by art collector Naomi Wilzig, this small museum on Washington Avenue happens to house an incredible collection of art from around the world, all of which happens to be sexual in nature. Inside are ancient Roman antiquities, pre-Columbian artifacts, and Japanese shunga illustrations. Canonical artists such as Salvador Dalí, Robert Mapplethorpe, and even Rembrandt are included, as are props from films like A Clockwork Orange. Basically, you'll see more penises and pictures of people fucking here than you ever thought you'd see — at least, outside the internet. But you'll leave impressed, guaranteed. And you might also have a slightly more refined experience than at that other Museum of Sex opening up across town. Monday through Thursday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Friday through Sunday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Admission costs $25.
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The Wolfsonian-FIU's art deco fortress is just as impressive as its collection.
Photo by Lynton Gardiner

The Wolfsonian-FIU

1001 Washington Ave., Miami Beach
At the Wolfsonian on Washington Avenue in Miami Beach, the wall art isn't meant to be simply viewed. Founded by collector Mickey Wolfson, this FIU-affiliated institution concentrates on functional art and design, from furniture and industrial products to graphic design and advertising. Past exhibitions have included everything from Soviet propaganda posters to legendary sports cars, and there's a particular focus on early-20th-century-design moments such as art nouveau, the Works Progress Administration's Art of the Depression, and — appropriately for South Beach — art deco. The museum building, a palatial art-deco warehouse dating from the 1920s, is a work of art unto itself. Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Friday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Admission costs $12 for adults and $8 for seniors, students, and children aged 6 to 18; free for Florida residents, FIU students, faculty, and staff, children under 6, disabled visitors and caregivers, and members.
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