Although the art world flies into Miami en masse every December, locals can participate in the city's excellent museums year-round. Huge collections at the city's larger institutions display the growing canon of contemporary art, while smaller museums specialize in single subjects, such as design, graffiti, and even erotica. Wherever your interests lie, you'll find something stimulating at these ten best art museums in Miami.
The Bass2100 Collins Ave., Miami Beach
Though the Bass, housed in the former Miami Beach public library, occasionally displays classical art — a Botticelli was on view just last year — its primary focus is contemporary work, and usually it's a bit challenging. For instance, 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. Since then, the Bass' curators have continually displayed an affinity for cutting-edge, conceptual art that can also be quite alienating and confusing, from group shows to solo exhibitions by little-known artists such as Laure Prouvost and Haegue Yang. Art snobs will love it, but the rest of us have a 50 percent chance of understanding anything in the room at a Bass show. At least there's always Dial-a-Poem. Open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday to Sunday; closed Monday and Tuesday. Admission costs $15 for adults and $8 for students, youths aged 7 to 18, and seniors aged 65 or older.
Institute of Contemporary Art Miami61 NE 41st St., Miami
It's difficult to name a better place to see incredible art for free. Since it moved into its current digs in the Design District, the Institute of Contemporary Art Miami (ICA) has put on one blockbuster exhibition after another, celebrating contemporary masters such as Judy Chicago, Larry Bell, and Ettore Sottsass alongside underappreciated black and Latin artists such as Paulo Nazareth and Purvis Young. Thanks to its great taste and no entry fee, the ICA is the Miami museum that commands repeat visits. Open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday; closed Monday. Admission is free.
Lowe Art Museum1301 Stanford Dr., Coral Gables
Miami's reputation on the international art scene tends to focus on the new. The Magic City is the place 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, as well as Renaissance European and Native American works. Its curators also put on interesting exhibitions of contemporary artists, most recently Afro-Cuban painter and sculptor Juan Roberto Diago. Open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday; closed Monday. Admission is $12.50 for adults; $8 for children aged 12 or younger, non-UM students, and seniors aged 65 or older; and free for children under age 12, military personnel, and UM students, faculty, and staff.
Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU301 Washington Ave., Miami Beach
Just because it's a popular Hebrew school field-trip destination doesn't mean it can't be a major art destination too. Housed in a former synagogue in Miami's SoFi neighborhood, the Jewish Museum gives extra dimension to Jewish art and culture. Going beyond bland historical displays, past exhibitions have covered topics such as Jewish cinema, photos of Miami Beach's elderly Jewish community in the 1970s, and the last synagogues of the Caribbean. Recently, curators have shifted to presenting solo exhibitions of artists. Miami Beach native Mira Lehr has exhibited environmentally conscious paintings and an installation, while Zack Balber recently showed his provocative photos of tattooed Jewish men. Open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday; closed Monday. Admission is $12 for adults, $8 for students and seniors,$24 for families, and free for everyone Saturday (Shabbat).
Museum of Graffiti299 NW 25th St., Miami
New Times isn't crazy about this spot's side practice of selling fine art for profit out of a gallery space on the premises, but the Museum of Graffiti, which opened last year during Art Basel, is still one of Miami's most exciting new art attractions. As the name implies, the Wynwood museum specializes in street art and artists, and it delves into the history of graffiti, its practitioners, and the subculture that grew around it. It's a serious, eye-opening consideration of a long-maligned and frequently outlawed art form that deserves much more respect than it gets. Open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday through Monday; closed Tuesday. Admission costs $16; children under 13 get in free.
Pérez Art Museum Miami1103 Biscayne Blvd., Miami
Many city-affiiliated art museums in the United States tend to exhibit work from throughout history. There's an old master here, a Rothko there, maybe some impressionists in this room and a Picasso in that one. PAMM, however, specializes in contemporary art, and in a city as trendy as Miami, displaying the art of today might be 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, and Jenny Holzer, and PAMM has shown work by video artists such as Dara Friedman and Arthur Jafa. Moreover, many of the museum's exhibitions — and even the Stiltsville-referencing Herzog & de Meuron building on Biscayne Bay — are keen on appealing to the city and reflecting its culture by offering works such as a blockbuster exhibition about Christo and Jeanne-Claude's landmark Surrounded Islands and a 2018 World Cup-inspired show fusing art and soccer. Open 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday through Tuesday; closed Wednesday. 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 and active U.S. Military.
Rubell Museum1100 NW 23rd St., Miami
It was the talk of the town during Art Basel 2020, and not without reason. The Rubells' new museum in Allapattah is by far the best permanent collection of art in South Florida, showcasing the family's vast collection of contemporary art from the '60s 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, and upon opening, the museum offered two Yayoi Kusama mirror rooms. The excellent library and other amenities add to the museum's bona fides, though it remains a privately owned institution. Open 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday; closed Monday and Tuesday. Admission costs $15 for adults; $12 for seniors aged 65 or older; and $10 for youths aged 7 to 18 and students.
Wilzig Erotic Art Museum1205 Washington Ave., Miami Beach
This entry is not a joke, just as this museum 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, walk into this curious museum surrounded by South Beach nightclubs, and you'll see more penises and pictures of people fucking than you ever thought you'd see (at least, outside of the internet). But you'll leave impressed, guaranteed. Open 11 a.m. Monday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to midnight Friday to Sunday. Admission costs $15.
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The Wolfsonian-FIU1001 Washington Ave., Miami Beach
At the Wolfsonian on Washington Avenue in Miami Beach, the art on the walls 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 tobacco advertisements, and there's a particular focus on early-20th-century art moments such as art nouveau, the Works Progress Administration 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. Open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday, Saturday, Monday, and Tuesday; 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday; and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday. Closed Wednesday. Admission costs $12 for adults and $8 for seniors, students, and children aged 6 to 18.
Young at Art Museum751 SW 121st Ave., Davie
Who says art museums are only for grownups? Founded to give Broward County kids more access to art education, Young at Art (YAA) is much more than just a children's museum. Since moving into its current home — a custom-built, LEED-certified building in Davie with its own Broward County Library branch — YAA has been able to attract serious, professional artists to exhibit there by challenging them to design with kids in mind. That means, unlike other museums, the art must be touchable. The likes of Kenny Scharf, Edouard Duval-Carrié, Jen Clay, and Nice'n Easy have created imaginative, interactive art at YAA, and the museum's excellent educational programs have left a meaningful impression on at least one New Times writer. Open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday through Sunday. Admission costs $15 for guests aged 1 or older, $14 for seniors 62 or older, and $12 for military families.