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.
Recognized for organizing the first solo museum exhibitions in the United States of international artists such as Erwin Wurm, The Bass also presents 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.
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 Spring 2017, the museum’s Creativity Center opens as the largest art museum education facility in Miami-Dade.
The Bass continues to incorporate its permanent collection. A new gallery will be dedicated to displays of the museum’s permanent collection, featuring a series of rotating artist projects that present works in dialogue with the collection.
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 itself already had a rich history on Miami Beach as the first public exhibition space for art in South Florida, and was placed on the National Register in 1978.
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 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 2009, The Bass experienced another wave of institutional growth as it consolidated its governance in a 501c3 non-profit corporation, hired a new director 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 Spring 2017, The Bass concludes its long-awaited transformation and reopens to the public. Again working with architect Arata Isozaki with consultation from David Gauld, the renovation expands the internal structure to create an almost 50 percent increase in programmable space, including three new galleries, a museum store and cafe, and a designated education facility to better serve expanded programs and increased attendance.