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Miami Gets a Latin American Art Museum, at a High Price

The design for LAAM by Fernando Romero (screenshot via YouTube)
The design for LAAM by Fernando Romero (all screenshots via YouTube)

Last week during Art Basel Miami Beach 2014, collector Gary Nader unveiled the design for his new Latin American Art Museum (LAAM), ArchDaily reported. When the 90,000-square-foot space opens in Miami in 2016, it will finally give the “capital of Latin America” an exhibition hall worthy of its nickname.

Mexican architect Fernando Romero‘s all-white design is breathtaking, with strong lines that please the eye — though it does fleetingly resemble something you might buy in an Apple Store. Its four rectangular platforms twist around a central axis, with each level housing its own “sculptural garden.” The first floor will be dedicated, nobly enough, to emerging artists, the second to temporary exhibitions, the third to Nader’s 600-piece personal art collection, and the fourth to — no surprise here — a fancy restaurant with a view. The museum will debut with a Fernando Botero retrospective, and the first year’s programming will also include a Brazilian art exhibition.

To fund the $50 million venture, Nader will also build a $300 million housing complex on the same Biscayne Boulevard property; prices for its 111 units will range from from $2 million to $20 million. Residents will actually access their homes through the museum itself. “[It’s] going to be a sort of meeting point for the residents and their visits,” the architects wrote.

As exciting as the museum may be, this is where Nader’s venture might make some people uncomfortable. Because while Miami hosts many of the art world’s glitziest happenings, its poverty rate (19.9%) remains well above the national average. What’s more, Miami-Dade County carries the unfortunate ranking of having the second-highest level of inequality among the nation’s large counties — an inequality that some say mirrors that in major Latin American cities. Connecting a high-dollar condominium building (with no affordable housing units) to a museum seems like it will only feed the growing perception that art is for the rich. It’s not. Or at least it shouldn’t be.

The design for LAAM by Fernando Romero (Screen grab via Youtube)
The design for LAAM by Fernando Romero
The design for LAAM by Fernando Romero (Screen grab via Youtube)
The design for LAAM by Fernando Romero
The design for LAAM by Fernando Romero (Screen grab via Youtube)
The design for LAAM by Fernando Romero
The design for LAAM by Fernando Romero (Screen grab via Youtube)
The design for LAAM by Fernando Romero

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