Written by Jessica Finol
The Bass Museum of Art is located in Miami Beach, within Collins Park at 2100 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139. Visitors to the museum can enjoy the beautiful scenery of the park both before and after their visit, as there are art installations outside as well. To the right of the Bass Museum, along 22nd street, lies the studio building for Miami City Ballet and the Miami Beach Regional Library, making this location a cultural and artistic hub. Depending on the time of day, visitors can spend some time enjoying the nature of the park, then visit the museum to view some interesting contemporary art, catch part of the Miami City Ballet's company practice through the glass windows of the studio, and end the day by checking out some books at the library. In addition, there are many restaurants within the area, making a trip to the Bass Museum well worth your time.
The Bass' mission is to create a place where a diverse variety of visitors can come to see an interesting selection of contemporary art. Being located in the heart of Miami Beach, it is important for the museum to showcase art that both represents and is made by diverse groups of people so that it might reflect the diversity of Miami Beach's residents and visitors alike. This mission allows for it to feel inclusive, as almost all visitors are likely to find at least one work or exhibition within the museum that resonates with them.
Access to the Bass Museum can be quite easy or rather difficult depending from where you are coming from. To those already on the island of Miami Beach, it is easy to reach via walking, rented scooter, Uber or trolley or a combination of these. Helpful references are listed below:
Routes 103, 112, 113, 119, 120, 123, 150
Stop at Collins & 21st or Collins & 22nd
Middle Beach Loop, Stop at Collins Park
However, for those coming by car, it can be a bit more difficult due to the parking situation. There is street parking along the perimeter of the museum, with rates depending on the hours parked there. Also, since it is located in such a busy area, surrounded by other businesses and restaurants, available open parking spaces can be very limited. There are nearby parking garages that charge hourly located at
18th Street and Meridian Avenue
17th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue
20th Street and Liberty AvenueMiddle Beach Loop, Stop at Collins Park
My favorite piece of the Bass Museum permanent collection was the Welcome Wall, by Pascale Marthine Tayou. Located in the lobby of the museum, it consists of 75 LED signs that flash the word welcome in various languages. It emphasizes the global connectedness of the museum and its visitors. It was really fun to watch the constantly moving letters and characters move around, and trying to identify how many languages that I recognized. Many people in Miami speak at least more than one language, so I think that this work, which is on long term view is an excellent way to connect with people, as they are welcomed not just in English, but possibly whatever other languages that they speak.
A continuation of the museum's collection, outside within Collins Park are two other pieces from the permanent collection. These are the Chess Tables by artist Jim Drain and the Miami Mountain by Ugo Rondinone. The Chess Tables piece included two chess tables and four chairs, which are designed to promote a gathering point for chess enthusiasts in Collins Park. The surfaces of the chairs and table use complex geometric designs achieved by using steel tubing and terrazzo tiles. Visitors to the museum are encouraged to interact with the work by borrowing chess or checker pieces from the museum's front desk during open hours. While we did not have time for a game after our visit, I was still drawn to the chairs simply because of their design, rigid right angles, but still very comfortable to sit on. Tucked along the corner of the park, this spot is very peaceful.
The other outdoor piece, Miami Mountain, is made of a singular column, which includes five large boulders, which are painted in bright fluorescent blue, green, orange, red and pink colors. It stands at 42 feet high and is easily seen from almost anywhere in the park. This work was inspired by rock formations in the North American Badlands. An excerpt from the Bass's website mentions that "The tradition of stacking stones atop one another has existed across cultures for thousands of years. Cairns, or stone piles, carry diverse and dynamic cultural significance. A common thread amongst ancient and modern cairn builders alike is the designation of time and place. Miami Mountain follows in this tradition as a lone demarcation, a moment in time frozen forever." I think that this is very interesting because when I first saw it, I just thought it was a cool, colorful sculpture, but knowing the cultural significance behind its inspiration was great to learn about.
Located in the first gallery on the first floor of the Bass Museum, is the exhibition, Open Storage: Selection from the collection and works on loan, which is on long term view. It contains over seventy items from the museum’s collection in addition to works on loan. These items are a diverse arrangement of photography and painting, three-dimensional works from the 16th and 19th centuries. They originate from the North and South American, European and African continents. The paintings are displayed in close clusters on the walls in somewhat unexpected combinations. In the picture below, traditional portrait paintings of wealthy white men are placed at the corner junction with a portrait photograph of a black man in a 18th century wig similar to the one diagonal of it of a white man. Below it is a photograph of a tribal African man who is bare chested wrestling with an animal. This image also directly constants with its diagonal image, of a portly white man in an opulent fur coat. The entire exhibition was displayed like this, with no artist credits alongside the images, which allowed for a seamless and uninterrupted display of frames and canvases together on the walls, depicting images that are not typically seen alongside each other in an exhibit. I really liked this aspect of it, as this exhibition included both excellent art in addition to being really unique in its layout.
On the second floor is the The Willfulness of Objects exhibition also on long term view. It included works from The Bass’ collection by artists who use recycled, or transformed everyday objects as their materials to explore facets of human nature, history, and the surrounding environment. The exhibition includes works by Allora & Calzadilla, Jose Bédia, Abraham Cruzvillegas, Cerith Wyn Evans, Lara Favaretto, Mark Handforth, Tracey Moffatt, Paola Pivi, Pedro Reyes, Karen Rifas, Mika Rottenberg, Jamilah Sabur, Xaviera Simmons, Eli Sudbrack, Adrian Villar Rojas, Danh Vō and Haegue Yang. One part of the exhibition showcases teal and pink colored everyday objects, such as tools, clothing and furniture suspended from the ceiling by wires. Almost appearing as if an entire room had exploded and suddenly frozen in time, the various objects hang at different angles. However, none of them touch the floor, creating an interesting viewing experience as the room is technically "empty" but also filled with objects.
The last exhibition is on the first floor, along a side corridor and depicts new work from the first recipient of the Oolite Arts’ Michael Richards Award, Edouard Duval-Carrié. His work, King Henri and Haiti’s Royal Court (2019), is inspired by the history of portraiture, depicting Henri Cristophe, who was one of Haiti’s revolutionary leaders who went on to become the first president of the republic and later declare himself king. The work is made out of etched plexiglass style, making it slightly reflective but deeply entrancing and detailed.
While the Bass Museum is on the smaller side, only having three exhibition spaces, it more than makes up for it by having really interesting and engaging exhibitions. In addition to the outdoor collection pieces, visitors can spend quite some time within the galleries simply just viewing the works, as they can cause inner reflections about their purpose, meaning, inspiration, etc. While it is a bit far, I'm really glad that I chose to go to the Bass for this project because I might have never walked in there otherwise. I have been to many art museums in Miami, but never the Bass, probably due to its far location.
However, it more than made up for the drive by being really captivating. My favorite exhibition was the Open Storage collection, because it was both physically and aesthetically pleasing to look at, almost like an eccentric art collectors’ home, in addition to displaying very diverse topics and subjects. This is an important part of the Bass' mission, to collect and display works that represent the diverse culture of Miami Beach, and allow visitors to engage with these works.
Teens and young adults ages 13-22 can buy tickets to visit The Bass for $5 through Culture Shock Miami. With the purchase of one $5 ticket for someone within the age range, a second $5 ticket can be purchased for an individual of any age to join them.
Regular priced tickets for all other ages available through The Bass' website.