Haitian voudou art, vast swaths of religious-themed tapestries and Renaissance masters await visitors at the Bass Museum of Art. This small yet unique museum is one of Miami Beachs cultural jewels.
The museum was founded in 1963 when art collectors John and Johanna Bass bequeathed
their extensive collection to the city of Miami Beach. The collection and its
highly varied, always changing exhibits, is housed in a piece of art itself: a
symmetrical art-deco building that was once Miami Beachs first public library.
Tourists will likely visit the museum for its temporary exhibits, (one recent and
fascinating show featured photos and dioramas of Christos Surrounded Islands,
when the famous artist wrapped the barrier islands near Miami Beach in pink fabric).
This summer the museum features two important
Haitian art exhibits. The first showcases the art collection of director Jonathan
Demme (of Silence of the Lambs and Philadelphia fame). Demme began collecting
Haitian art in the 80s. The Bass Museum will show 80 paintings, sculptures and
tapestries from some of the most important contemporary Haitian artists. The second
exhibit, called Voudou Pantheon, is a collection of paintings and sculptures by
Edouard Duval-Carrie that are owned by the Museum. The museum has also
scheduled weekend symposiums, films and lectures about Haitian art; check the
website or call for more details.
Another exhibit, Arturo Rodriguez: Human Comedy, takes visitors to another
Caribbean island: Cuba. Rodriguez, a Cuban-American from Miami, paints whimsical
portraits and his subjects all have comically large heads.
The Bass Museums permanent collection is just as interesting, if not a little more
traditional. Among the treasures: Sandro Botticellis The Coronation of the
Virgin, a late 15th Century altarpiece and Peter Paul Rubens The Holy Family.
Other works include Rococo portraits, Dutch master paintings and plenty of
cherub-cheeked babies. Visitors will also notice the enormous 16th Century Flemish
tapestries as they walk up a gentle ramp connecting the museums first and second
Upcoming exhibits are in the modern realm, and include tapestry works by Picasso,
Matisse and Calder, and a body of Miami-based work by
French artist Herve di Rosa.
Museum hours: 10 a.m. until 5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday; 11 a.m. until 5 p.m.
Sunday. Closed on Mondays and holidays. Docent tours every Saturday at 2 p.m., these
are free with regular admission. Visitors can also buy souvenirs, postcards and some
eclectic, inexpensive Latin American-produced art in the gift shop. Museum entrance
fee: $9 for adults, $6 for seniors and students, children under six and members
free. Admission is also free for holders of the Go Miami card. 2121 Park Ave. (Between 21st and 22nd Streets), Miami Beach, FL 33139.
Parking can be tricky, especially on weekends; most visitors park in metered spaces
on the street. For more information, call (305) 673-7530 or visit them on the web.