This December, during Art Basel Miami Beach 2013, the city of Miami will rejoice with the much anticipated opening of the Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM), the new installment of what was known, until now, as the Miami Art Museum (MAM). The institution will leave its current building, created in 1983 by Phillip Johnson, for a new site on the waterfront, which will be called Museum Park.
Visually, the striking building, designed by Swiss Architecture firm Herzog & de Meuron, is quite the contrast from the previous MAM location and draws from nature to enhance the museum’s interior space. With wraparound windows that let in views of Biscayne Bay, downtown Miami and the Museum’s magnificent hanging gardens, the building promises to be an architectural masterpiece, which will herald a new era for the arts in Downtown Miami. The hanging gardens, created by French botanist Patrick Blanc, consist of vertical columns decked with 77 different plants species, pouring down from the building’s trellised roof.
The new building, designed as a museum of the future, boasts installations for multimedia, educational programs, public gardens, a gift shop, bar and restaurant, which will likely become the preferred space to enjoy brunch with a view or, simply a lunch retreat to break up the work day.
Jorge M Pérez, Miami’s most recognizable real estate developer, donated $35 million dollars in cash and a selection of artworks to the Museum and was recognized with the renaming of the emblematic institution. The 110 items donated from his collection, along and with commissioned works, received in 2012, and an outpouring of public support, which includes 102 works of art donated by Craig Robins, president of Dacra, elevate the number and quality of PAMM’s permanent collection. The museum’s collection, in total synchronicity with Miami, showcases the entrenched cultural diversity of the Magic City.
The highly anticipated opening exhibitions are a testament to Miami’s newfound prominence in the art world. An exhibit of the works of dissident Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, titled Ai Weiwei: According to What? introduces themes like tragedy, history, culture and freedom. It features some of Weiwei’s best-known pieces, including Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn; a Tea House, made of tea leaves, and a sculpture of Chinese “Forever” bicycles connected together to create a maze.
The Projects Gallery, a special space with soaring 24-foot ceilings will hold a 1,100-pound hanging sculpture by Polish artist Monica Sosnowska. A survey of Amelia Peáaez del Casal’s work, a modernist Cuban master, whose brightly colored works are reminiscent of Havana’s architecture, will also be on view.
In AMERICANA, a collection displayed throughout six galleries, artwork produced by artists working in the Caribbean, North, Central and South America, will be presented on opening night. A unique photography exhibit, titled Image Search: Photography from the Collection features works by Andy Warhol, Edward Steichen and Rineke Dijkstra. To complete this varied selection of exhibits, an installation by Hew Locke, For Those in Peril on the Sea, draws the public view to the ceiling, where dozens of ship replicas hang down.
There’s something for poetry and film lovers, too. A Human Document: Selections from the Sackner Archive of Concrete and Visual Poetry merges imagery and poetry. Inferno, a film by Yael Bartana, showcases the current construction of the third Temple of Solomon in Sao Paulo, Brazil, while Bouchra Khalili’s third installment of The Speeches Series documents her subjects delivering speeches, in the language of their choice, and expressing their status as undocumented workers in New York City.
But art isn’t limited to the inside of the building as an outside sculpture garden, which is expected to grow, now holds two of Jedd Novatt’s Chaos sculptures. These larger than life pieces seem to defy gravity and provide a dash of unexpected aluminum to the lush outdoor space.
PAMM is responsible for having the largest art education program outside of the school system in Miami Dade County. The Museum anticipates that this move will help them reach 70,000 students within the first year. The educational area includes an auditorium, library, classrooms and art and digital workshop spaces.
Located in what has now been renamed Museum Park, PAMM will be joined by the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science in 2015. Both museums will share an expansive outdoor space, recently named Knight Plaza in recognition of brothers John S. and James L. Knight. “The plaza is an opportunity to bring South Floridians together and to solidify downtown’s growing cultural town center,” said Alberto Ibargüen, president of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, which contributed a combined $20 million for the construction of the new museums.
Thom Collins, PAMM’s Director, has been vocal about PAMM’s role as a museum for the public. “With Miami being an international city very much known for its beaches and weather, locals and tourists alike will most appreciate that architects Herzog & de Meuron have designed a building that will ‘bring the park into the museum’ in new and innovative ways,” says the director.
Those familiar with Collins’ career are well aware of his knack for engaging the community. While working with New York’s Neuberger Museum of Art, he was responsible for a considerable increase in attendance and community participation. There are high hopes for the new leader, who has previously worked as an art director, curator and Museum Director.
There will be a little bit of everything at PAMM, and whether for the love of the art, architecture, brunching, or just to take in those majestic hanging gardens, PAMM will prove to be a destination for all visitors to enjoy. More importantly, PAMM is the kind of institution that will propel the beautiful city of Miami to a deserving place in the international cultural scene. ■