Finding a free way to spend the afternoon in Miami can be harder than you think. And laying on the beach is only so fun for so long. Also. It’s summer. Air conditioning is the new oxygen. So rather than strolling the aisles of Whole Foods pretending to find the perfect snack, we’ve discovered our newest favorite way to spend an hour or two; In wandering the floors of the ICA in Miami Design District.
Three stories high, the Institute of Contemporary Art showcases local and international artists, designers, architects, painters, sculptors, and photographers. Dedicated to ‘providing open, public access to artistic excellence’ the museum is always free, all the time. That means you can explore the works of great artists like David Flavin, Purvis Young, Eric Paul-Riege, and Robert Gober at zero cost. Entirely the opposite of literally every other museum in the city.
When we think of the Miami Design District, it’s hard to imagine that a world-class, free museum is in the heart of just a retail-forward neighborhood. The international name brands can’t compete with ICA’s open doors and emphasis on educational programs. While appealing to the creative roots of the area, and mirroring the many innovative architectural ideas it neighbors, it serves as an outstretched arm to all of us who can’t afford the luxury but who are still highly interested in culture 24/7. With floor to ceiling windows, the space is as bright as it is open just the way we like our cultural anchors to be.
Poma Architectural Metals
With the first floor displayed as more of a collective, the second and third floors are dedicated to showcasing featured artists like current exhibitions by Paulo Nazareth and famed Italian designer Ettore Sottsass. But it’s the outdoor Sculpture Garden we’re talking about here which, like the museum itself, is free and open to the public. Come here to sit and ponder, or peruse volcanic rock sculptures by Pedro Reyes, pop art by George Segal, a major sculpture by Miami artist Mark Handforth, and a large-scale installation by Puerto Rican artist duo, Allora & Calzadilla.
Usually, art museums reserve their epic monthly parties for members only, so they seem just as exclusive as the elevated art form tends to give off. But not at ICA Miami. Again, they’d chosen community over luxury and throw their turnkey jam every month that is, like the museum, free and open to the public. Their First Fridays events usually flood into the museum’s multiple floors and exhibition spaces, and out into the Sculpture Garden where drinks and conversation flow as easily as the inspiration in the surrounding masterpieces.
Photo: ICA Miami
As a host for artist lectures and performances, the ICA is committed to cultivating a community of art and design. Outside of their First Fridays events, they host family days with hands-on activities for kids, and their member program offers even more chances to get and stay connected. ICA Ideas focuses on individual artists and their thoughts behind specific pieces and movements, ICA Speaks is their engaging lecture program, and ICA Performs promotes art beyond the visual.
I think we can all agree that getting in the habit of seeking more culture in our city is necessary for it to grow. If you’ve been longing for a chance to up your culture and art game, becoming a member at ICA Miami is a great first step. Their current summer special offers 30% off their most popular membership level, ICA Next (which is usually $365 annually, or a dollar a day). These give you priority access to all openings and events, members-only Art Basel and Miami Art Week happenings, discounts at the bookstore and cafe, and more. Check it out.
Cover: Art in America Guide
Katy Prohira is contributing writer originally from Upstate New York, and currently based out of North Miami. Passionate about food, drink, art and photography, Katy finds herself writing about the newest art exhibitions, restaurant openings and hidden Miami gems. Follow her on Instagram @katyprohira and read more of what she has to say at highgirlhigh.com.