Miami is the only major US city without a world class art museum. However there is hope for picture perfect cultural status in the near future. We’re in the final countdown to a new Miami Art Museum; completion is set for late 2013.
Pritzker Prize–winning Swiss Architectural firm Herzog and de Meuron are no strangers to re-fashioning our horizon. Miami has engaged them for other mind altering facades before tackling this new museum.. Their 1111 Lincoln Road complex has taken a plebeian parking garage concept to new heights of chic. Who would imagine the glitterati would clamor to hold major events atop a parking garage....but Miami Beach/Herzog de Meuron managed to make it cutting edge as one peers over the view-laden side with merely a cable or two between you and the pavement many stories below. Herzog and de Meuron are also responsible for the Tate Moderne in London and Beijing’s Olympic Bird’s Nest stadium, in case you still have questions regarding pedigree.
Officially named the Perez Art Museum Miami (never mind that the acronym sounds like a non-stick cooking spray), the new PAMM will create a slick window into the verisimilitude of Miami’s present and future as a viable art magnet to the world. The new PAMM museum is named after MAM Trustee, Jorge M. Pérez , who became a generous benefactor of the new project; the gift will also include a large contribution of Latin American art from Perez’ collection.
The newly minted Museum Park, located on ubiquitous Biscayne Bay in the northeast quadrant of the Biscayne Boulevard and Mac Arthur Causeway intersect, will be home not only to PAMM, but the new Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science, opening in 2015. We are required to learn a whole new lexicon, as Bicentennial Park becomes Museum Park, and the Miami Science Museum as well as Miami Art Museum sport new names to reflect an improved status. Some of en plein air upgrades hoped for in Museum Park are on hold reflecting the fiscal budget issues that this city is experiencing, but will still adhere to the green concept with a new baywalk (Biscayne Boulevard to Bay walkway) connecting the two museums on this property.
PAMM’s 75’ louvered canopy roof will cut down on the A/C load as well as provide a needed hiding area from our relentless sunshine. Many South Florida designs appear to ignore our particular requirements regarding months of brutal heat. (Not to take advantage of a platform, but how many of us have lost money by having our Miami Beach parking devices fry off all LED info as they lounge on our car dashboards for hours on end?) Native plants will have rainwater funneled into their containers and natural lightning will be utilized to cut down on energy usage. Proof of PAMM’s green-ness is the national Silver Leadership in Energy (LEED) Certification it has earned by the U.S. Green Building Council.
Part of the design elements were inspired by Biscayne Bay’s collection of 1930’s Stiltsville buildings, a fascinating part of Miami’s occasional nefarious past. For those of you who are disaster-centric, let it be known that PAMM will harbor the largest sheet of hurricane proof glass in Florida, taking advantage of natural vistas while ensuring that said vistas do not inadvertently become part of the inner decor come hurricane season.
I encourage you to visit the informative MAM web site as it is quite comprehensive. MAM Director Thomas Collins tours the construction site via video every few months if you would like to monitor progress up close. On the top menu bar of MAM’s web site (see address below) is a category called Build & Brief which will offer a monthly update of all things PAMM. There is even a live webcam if you like watching paint dry.
I caught up with Director Collins recently, for his thoughts as the new facade arises from the old Bicentennial Park grounds:
“For the first time, Miami will have a major, world-class center for modern and contemporary visual art.”
I asked about the biggest concern with this ambitious project for Miami:
“Herzog & de Meuron’s design responds to Miami’s climate and the needs of a young, rising art museum. The architects have designed a building that can expand organically. As MAM’s collection grows, additional walls and rooms can be added, and gallery expansions can be made.”
“A major central art museum is a great resource for a community.” Collins added. “Miami is a young city and is just now building the cultural infrastructure other major cities have had in place for more than a century. This fact will enable us to implement a progressive model for museum practice.”
How has your sojourn in the Miami art world been different from your other posts?
“Miami has a community of extraordinary private collectors. What is interesting, and I think is different about Miami, is that these extraordinary private collectors have really led the public institutions in Miami. They organize very bold, innovative public presentations. These collectors have really stimulated and shaped a dialogue about the visual arts in critical and compelling ways.”
How has/will the infrastructure of staffing differ with the new building?
“We have already started adding new faces to our already outstanding staff to guide the expansion.”
What is Collins vision from this point forward for the museum and the direction of art in Miami and impact in the international arena?
“The new Pérez Art Museum Miami has the potential to be one of the most important public art spaces internationally.”
Collins shares these thoughts: “We will be able to bring more major exhibitions to South Florida, and we will have the space to display our growing collections. Our education program, already the largest in the County outside the school system’s, will triple in size. The New PAMM will also be a novel social space in Miami and our restaurant, museum shop, and library will be central to visitor experience.”
Miami’s bastion of contemporary art has only been a collecting museum since 1996, and while some have groused in the past that pieces have not been necessarily from artists’A lists, MAM has come a long way in a very short time. The new museum will allow for a greater concentration of exhibition space as the acquisitions of 20th and 21st century pieces grow and mature. Education will be a strong emphasis, contributing to the surrounding community’s personal growth and maturation in tandem with the city’s physical expansion.
I asked Director Collins if we can look forward to a big bash in 2013 introducing the new museum to the community: “The Museum will open in December 2013, concurrent with Miami Art Week and Art Basel Miami Beach. We are looking forward to our first gala at Pérez Art Museum Miami, which will be held on site, and we are now planning a variety of events for members and the community. We are also receiving a lot of inquiries from other organizations and corporations wishing to rent the facility for various events and programs, particularly during Miami Art Week.”
I noted a November 23, 2009 article in the New York Times posited the dilemma of institutions balancing “architectural expression and the need to showcase art”. Will Miami’s new Perez Art Museum come close to satisfying this conundrum facing modern cities? We shall see, won’t we?
As you zip by the mainland entrance to the MacArthur Causeway over the coming months, take a moment to ponder how far Miami’s rocket to art stardom has come since Art Basel sprinkled its impeccable taste onto Miami’s deep dish of multi-cultural stew a tad over a decade ago. Perez Art Museum Miami will be an important cornerstone to the new millennium and Miami’s future face in the world.
(On the web site click on PAMM, then Build & Brief for construction and information update videos and articles)
Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science: www.miasci.org/blog/the-patricia-and-phillip-frost-museum-of-science-breaks-ground-in-downtown-miami’s-museum-park
Herzog an de Meuron: www.1111lincolnroad.com
The Pritzker Prize in Architecture: www.pritzkerprize.com/about