Bass Museum

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The Bass
Bass Museum South Beach (12956989905).jpg
Bass Museum of Art front façade, January 2015
Established 1963
Location Miami Beach, Florida, United States
Type Art museum
Director Silvia Karman Cubiñá
Public transit access Metrobus, Collins Ave at 22 Street
Website Bass Museum

Coordinates: 25°47′51″N 80°07′48″W / 25.7973966°N 80.1299536°W / 25.7973966; -80.1299536

The Bass Museum of Art is a contemporary art museum located in Miami Beach, Florida in the United States. The Bass is currently closed for renovations and opens to the public in 2017. During renovations, The Bass Projects has operated a temporary exhibition space at the Miami Beach Regional Library (227 22nd Street).[1] The Bass Museum of Art was founded in 1964 through the donation of a private collection by John and Johanna Bass to the City of Miami Beach. The museum opened in what was formerly the Miami Beach Public Library and Art Center, a 1930s Art Deco building designed by Russell Pancoast, grandson of Miami Beach pioneer John Collins. The building was placed on the National Register in 1978.


John & Johanna Bass and The Early Years[edit]

John Bass (1891-1978) and Johanna Redlich (m. Feb. 21, 1921) were Jewish-immigrants from Vienna, Austria who resided in Miami Beach. As President of the Fajardo Sugar Company of Puerto Rico, John Bass was also an amateur journalist, artist (namely painting and etching) and composer of published music. Mr. Bass collected both fine art and cultural artifacts, including a sizeable manuscript collection that now lives in the Carnegie Hall Archives.[2] In 1963, the couple bequeathed a collection of more than 500 works, including Old Master paintings, textiles and sculptures to the City of Miami Beach, under the agreement that a Bass Museum of Art would remain open to the public in perpetuity. In 1964, the museum opened its doors in the former Miami Beach Public Library and Art Center, a 1930s Art Deco building designed by Russell Pancoast. The building itself already had a rich history on Miami Beach as the first public exhibition space for art in South Florida. John Bass directed the museum from its founding in 1964 until his death in 1978. [3]

The First Phase of Expansion[edit]

In 1980, art historian Diane Camber was hired as Executive Director of the museum. For the next thirty years, Camber worked to professionalize museum operations, obtain AAM accreditation, produce scholarly exhibitions and successfully run a capital campaign for a building expansion, developing the museum into a significant cultural institution. Under her leadership in 2001, the original museum building was renovated, and a new wing, designed by renowned architect Arata Isozaki, was added to house galleries, offices and a museum shop. The new addition more than doubled the size of the museum and added galleries gave the museum a total of 16,000 square feet of exhibition space, essential for the presentation of temporary exhibitions and continued growth. In 2002, the building expansion was inaugurated with the groundbreaking exhibition Globe Miami Island.

Transformation Culmination[edit]

In 2009, The Bass experienced another wave of institutional growth as George Lindemann, Jr. became President of the Board of Directors and Silvia Karman Cubiñá was appointed as Executive Director. Aligning with rapid urban development of City of Miami Beach, support from the John L. and James S. Knight Foundation and the success of Art Basel Miami Beach, the museum consolidated its governance in a 501c3 non-profit corporation and developed a new board. The museum re-focused its mission and programming to reflect the new development of Miami Beach as an art destination, catering to the evolving and diverse nature of Miami Beach residents and tourists.

In 2013, the museum announced a $7.5 million grant from the City of Miami Beach to begin a second phase of transformation. Again working with architect Arata Isozaki with consultation from David Gauld, the renovation seeks to expand the internal structure by 10,000 square feet, without altering the building footprint. The renovations will create an almost 50 percent increase in programmable space, including three new galleries and a designated education facility to better serve expanded programs and increased attendance. The museum closed its doors for construction in May 2015. In September 2016, the museum announced the public reopening for Spring 2017.[4]


The Bass is Miami Beach’s contemporary art museum. Focusing on exhibitions of international contemporary art, The Bass presents mid-career and established artists reflecting the spirit and international character of Miami Beach. The Bass seeks to expand the interpretation of contemporary art by incorporating disciplines of contemporary culture, such as design, fashion and architecture, into the exhibition program.[5]

Recognized for organizing the first solo museum exhibitions in the United States of international artists such as Erwin Wurm, The Bass has also presented major exhibitions by influential artists such as El Anatsui, Isaac Julien, Eve Sussman, and Piotr Uklański. The exhibition program encompasses a wide range of media and artistic points of view that bring new thought to the diverse cultural context of Miami Beach.

In 2003, the museum presented a traveling exhibition titled, US DESIGN, 1975-2000, a critical assessment of the work of three generations of American designers during the last 25-years of the 20th century.[6]

Under the leadership of Silvia Karman Cubiñá, Executive Director and Chief Curator since 2009, the Bass Museum of Art has presented such exhibitions as


The Madonna Adoring the Christ Child with Angels and the Infant St. John the Baptist, attributed to studio of Domenico Ghirlandaio, in The Bass' permanent collection.

The Bass continues to incorporate its founding collection into a schedule of international contemporary exhibitions. The museum’s permanent collection includes European painting and sculpture from the 15th century to present; 7th to 20th-century textiles, tapestries and ecclesiastical vestments and artifacts; 20th and 21st-century North American, Latin American, Asian and Caribbean art; photographs, prints and drawings; and modern and contemporary architecture and design with emphasis on the pre- and postwar design history of Miami Beach. The new “Open Storage” gallery created in the current transformation, is dedicated to displays of the museum’s permanent collection, featuring a series of rotating artist projects that present works in dialogue with the collection. Pascale Marthine Tayou will serve as the first artist intervention in the space for his exhibition, Beautiful.

From August 21, 2015 to July 17, 2016, a selection of artworks from the permanent collection were incorporated into an exhibition at the Lowe Art Museum at the University of Miami. Dürer to Rubens: Northern European Art from the Bass Museum included works that represent a range of media—including oil on canvas, tempera on panel, enamel on porcelain, and textiles.[7]

In September 2016, The Bass launched a ten-year initiative to grow the museum’s holdings of international contemporary art within the permanent collection. The initiative was celebrated with two inaugural acquisitions of public art; Miami Mountain, 2016 by Ugo Rondinone and Eternity Now, 2015 by Sylvie Fleury.


Central to the museum’s mission, The Bass maintains a vigorous education program for lifelong learning and visitors of all ages. The Bass IDEAS education initiative uses art as a catalyst for creativity and positive growth, especially in the area of early childhood education. The active outreach program, Creativity in the Community, takes The Bass IDEAS off-site by engaging families and their children in Miami-Dade County neighborhoods with the most challenged access to art. In 2017, the museum’s Creativity Center opens as the largest art museum education facility in Miami-Dade, with three classrooms and various spaces to serve a regular curriculum of multigenerational programs.


Executive Director and Chief Curator[edit]

Executive Director and Chief Curator of The Bass, Silvia Karman Cubiñá.

Silvia Karman Cubiñá is the Executive Director and Chief Curator of The Bass Museum of Art, Miami Beach (2009–Present). Previously, she was the Director of The Moore Space, Miami, from 2002-2008. In the past, she held the position of Adjunct Curator at inova, the Institute of Visual Arts; University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee; and at The Mexican Museum in San Francisco and the Cuban Museum of Art in Miami. She was the Puerto Rico commissioner to the 1997 Bienal de São Paulo. She has curated numerous exhibitions, lectured extensively and participated in grant panels and award selection committees, including serving as a juror for the Guggenheim Museum’s Hugo Boss Award for 2006 and juror at the Bienal de Lyon in 2008. In 2007, she was a finalist for the Walter Hopps Award for Curatorial Achievement and was a fellow in the Center for Curatorial Leadership (CCL) fellowship program. Cubiñá currently serves on the Knight Foundation National Arts Advisory Board and on the Board of Directors of the AAMD American Alliance of Art Museum Directors. In 2012, Cubiñá was awarded the distinction of Chevalier de l'ordre des arts et lettres by the French Ministry of Culture.

Under her leadership, the museum has seen the following accomplishments:

  • 100% increase in memberships
  • 100% increase in attendance numbers
  • 300% increase in museum’s program budget
  • Board of Directors increase from 2 members to 30 members, all prominent figures in the Miami and Miami Beach communities
  • Staff increase from 9 to 24 employees
  • Obtained prestigious national grants including $225,000 from ArtPlace America for TC: Temporary Contemporary and $500,000 from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to support education outreach programs
  • Recipient of 8 grants from the Knight Foundation, including 7 Knight Arts Challenge awards totalling $730,000.
  • Established multiple corporate and institutional partnerships including: New World Symphony, Art in Public Places, Center for Contemporary Art Cincinnati, Dallas Contemporary, Jumex Foundation, Puma, and Coldwell Banker, among others
  • Began a partnership with Art Basel Miami Beach to present Public, an annual outdoor sculpture exhibition in Collins Park
  • Creativity in the Community, the Bass’ education outreach program, was one of 51 programs featured in the Association of Art Museum Directors’ Next Practices in Diversity and Inclusion
  • The Executive Director was nominated and elected to the Board of Directors of AAMD (American Association of Art Museum Directors), a distinction attesting to The Bass' increasing reputation and standing on a national level
  • Celebrated 50th Anniversary of the founding of the museum of Art in 2014
  • Created a $3.5 million art acquisition program
  • Began a $10 million endowment campaign, with $3,350,000 raised to date

Board of Directors[edit]

As of March 2017, the current board members are: George Lindemann, Jr. (President), Lida Rodriguez-Taseff (Parliamentarian), Alan Randolph (Treasurer), Olga Blavatnik, Criselda Breene, Clara Bullrich, Hugh Bush, Trudy Cejas, Michael Comras, Ramiro E. Del Amo, Brian Ehrlich, Gaby Garza, Solomon Genet, Christina Getty, Sarah Harrelson, Lisa Heiden-Koffler, Monica Kalpakian, Naeem Khan, Diane Lieberman, Alice S. Matlick, Jimmy Morales, Thomas C. Murphy, Laura Paresky Gould, Soledad Picón, Tui Pranich, Alisa Romano, Tatyana Silva, Christine J. Taplin, Richard Toledo and Cathy Vedovi.[8]


  1. ^ Edwards, Stassa (2015-05-14). "Bass Museum of Art to Close for Renovations". Miami New Times. Retrieved 2016-05-06. 
  2. ^ "Archives Directory for the History of Collecting in America". The Frick Collection. The Frick Collection. 
  3. ^ Anne, Tschida. "Bass Museum in Miami Beach celebrating 50th anniversary". The Miami Herald. Retrieved 4 August 2016. 
  4. ^ Robin, Pogrebin. The New York Times. The New York Times  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  5. ^  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  6. ^ Miller, R Craig; Haag Bletter, Rosemarie; Denver Art Museum (2001). "US design 1975-2000". Munich ; New York: Prestel: 255 pages : illustrations (chiefly color) ; 31 cm. OCLC 49683001Published in conjunction with the exhibition of the same name organized by the Denver Art Museum. Exhibition tour: Denver Art Museum, Denver, Colorado, Feb.-May 2002; Bass Museum of Art, Miami, Florida, Feb.-May 2003; American Craft Museum, New York, New York, June-Oct. 2003; Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, Memphis, Tennessee, Nov. 2003-Feb. 2004. 
  7. ^  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  8. ^  Missing or empty |title= (help)

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