The New Miami Art Museum Rises
By Brett Sokol
ABOVE: Thomas Collins with Tomás Saraceno’s 2008 artwork Galaxies Forming Along Filaments, Like Droplets Along the Strands of a Spider’s Web. BELOW: Susan Rothenberg, Folded Buddha, 1987–1988, currently on view at MAM
The interview has hit a wall. “You’re not a heroin addict, are you?” Thomas Collins asks me, only half joking. Why else, he implores, would anyone oppose turning downtown Miami’s ramshackle Bicentennial Park—or as Collins dubs it, “Needle Park”—into the home of the new Miami Art Museum? “It is no longer credible to try to undermine this project,” he continues sternly. “This museum is happening.”
For almost an hour, Collins, the Miami Art Museum’s newly hired director, has been waxing poetic about his institution’s future building—the $200 million, 200,000-square-foot waterfront facility designed by famed Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron, set to open in 2013. With a classical symphony playing softly from a radio in the corner of his office—which is virtually bare beyond a large color sketch of the future structure—Collins has been trying to share his enthusiasm over all the wondrous things that will unfold once Bicentennial Park is transformed into Museum Park.
He says Miami offers up a “dynamic matrix,” unlike the wealthy but colorless neighborhoods that surround Westchester County, New York’s Neuberger Museum of Art, where Collins was previously the director. As he envisions it, come 2013, the new MAM will not only “invite interesting human interactions,” but it also will “catalyze” and “contextualize” them. And forget about traditional art institutions with their oh-so-staid floor plans leading visitors directly from point A to point B. Thanks to Herzog & de Meuron, inside the new MAM, “the telos is not entirely clear.”
Excuse me, the “telos”?
“The exit point.”
With my own vision of museumgoers wandering confusedly through a mazelike building, consulting maps to make sure they hadn’t accidentally bypassed half the exhibitions—or just in a desperate search for the exit—I interrupt Collins. What about us fuddy-duddies who believe museums should occasionally allow for something as old-fashioned as, say, looking at a painting?
An artist’s rendering of the proposed Miami Art Museum at Museum Park, designed by architects Herzog & de Meuron. BELOW: Robert Rauschenberg, Untitled, 1986, currently on view at MAM
PHOTOGRAPHS BY ROBERT FIGUEROA (COLLINS); COURTESY OF MIAMI ART MUSEUM (RENDERING); ESTATE OF ROBERT RAUSCHENBERG/LICENSED BY VAGA, NEW YORK, NY (RAUSCHENBERG)