Throngs of excited visitors came out earlier this month to the newly reopened Bass Museum of Art on Miami Beach, a project nearly three years in the making. Families were everywhere, gleefully uncovering what the team at Bass had done after two years of construction and a year of planning and fundraising. Put simply, it was free and the halls were packed.
Director Silvia Karman Cubiñá claims that, “the main purpose of this transformation was the visitor experience;” to that end, the Bass has added four new galleries, three new classrooms and two new areas of social space.
The museum was founded in 1963 by the City of Miami Beach with a donation from a legacy collection of historical art from John and Johanna Bass and is heavy on old masters including El Greco and Botticelli. The reframed Bass infuses contemporary interventions into this classically traditional context. Moving forward, the collection will focus solely on contemporary art, but the old masters will have their place. For instance, Pascale Marthine Tayou’s exhibition, “Beautiful,” incorporates old master pieces into site-specific mixed-media installations: “Pascale’s Eggs” (2014) features countless differently colored alabaster eggs framing the old master works.
Ugo Rondinone’s work, presented under the gloomy title, “good evening beautiful blue,” includes the piece “vocabulary of solitude,” a series of 45 sculptures of fully costumed clowns lying or sitting or in everyday poses. Despite its introspective and somber tone, the piece proved quite popular on social media, with museumgoers sitting next to the clowns as if they are along for the ride. Perhaps it’s how art is now being consumed, though Karman Cubiñá doesn’t think social media was Rondinone’s intention.
“I am just delighted,” Karman Cubiñá explains of the new face of the Bass Museum and its programs, “it feels like people are responding really well. Moving forward, the Bass will continue to add contemporary art to the collection with the hope that the community will show up with the same enthusiasm they brought on opening day.
Pascale Marthine Tayou’s Beautiful continues through April 2, 2018.