Pérez Art Museum Miami adds to growing collection, attendance
Officials at the Pérez Art Museum Miami have been working all year, acquiring hundreds of new pieces for the carefully crafted and sometimes endearingly local permanent collection, showcasing art exhibitions that transcend visitors’ ideas of what it means to spend a day at a museum, and have seen their hard work pay off by way of what they say are soaring visitor numbers.
Higher visitor numbers has translated into higher membership numbers, too, said Franklin Sirmans, director of the Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM).
“They have been up, up, up, which is awesome, we’re really happy about that,” Mr. Sirmans said. “All numbers have been increasing, which is fantastic.”
Though the museum did not reveal exact figures, at least some of the success, Mr. Sirmans said, can be attributed to the museum’s visitor services team, who have been very involved with collecting and listening to visitor feedback.
An exhibit titled “Basquiat: The Unknown Notebooks” has called the museum home since Aug. 12.
According to the museum, the exhibition showcases Jean-Michel Basquiat’s rarely seen notebooks, filled with poetry fragments, wordplay, sketches and personal observations. It features 160 notebook pages, related objects, works on paper and large-scale paintings.
But, Mr. Sirmans said, the museum didn’t stop there.
Complementing the exhibition, PAMM has added works from Miami including collaborative paintings made by Basquiat and Andy Warhol.
“It was one thing to see [the notebook pages] show,” Mr. Sirmans said, “but we added work from collectors here in Miami, some other great paintings in there from board members, then drawings from as far away as Los Angeles.”
“In addition to those works, we also created a big room with benches and tables for people to come down and make their own sketchbooks and listen to playlists,” he said. “We turned it into a big space.”
The museum hopes to be able to follow the success of the visitor engagement it’s accomplished during the Basquiat show, which sees its last visitor Oct. 16, though not always on such a large-scale.
Museums of the 21st century are drastically different than those of the past, Mr. Sirmans said.
“You can’t just go and look at museums and look at paintings and stand there,” he said. “We want people to have an experience. PAMM is about galleries, exhibitions, the education department, having an experience while looking out at the bay, shops that feature beautiful works of art… it’s the whole thing.”
In May, the museum announced more than 100 new acquisitions including works by artists including Carmen Herrera, Mark Bradford, Taryn Simon, Stan Douglas, Yto Barrada, Nari Ward and Theaster Gates.
The pieces joining the museum’s permanent installation include 100 works from PAMM trustee Craig Robins, a film installation by Stan Douglas, sculptures by Ernesto Neto and Pablo Atchugarry, 14 prints by Mark Bradford, an installation by Hew Locke and several works from PAMM’s temporary exhibitions.
One of the most exciting acquisitions, Mr. Sirmans said, is that of works by Cuban-born Carmen Herrera, purchased by the PAMM Collectors Council.
“Carmen Herrera is an amazing woman whose work people didn’t begin to look at until the last decade,” he said. “We need to be able to show the best of artists from Latin America and the Caribbean.”
Already in the permanent collection for some time are works by Miami-born artist Teresita Fernández.
“We want people to see how we are sharing their story,” Mr. Sirmans said. “We’re a people’s museum.”
Mr. Sirmans said he’s excited about upcoming events at the museum such as the ninth annual Corporate Luncheon on Sept. 28 and the April 2017 Art of the Party gala, but especially the convening of the Collectors Council this October.