Miami was once a city best known for its celebrated beaches, but in recent years a sophisticated arts and design scene has caused a quiet revolution on the other side of the causeway.
While the beautiful people bronzed on South Beach, a Design District of galleries, architecture showrooms, interior design stores and creative agencies was forged out of an area north of Midtown that had fallen into urban decay. At the same time, the derelict warehouses of once-industrial Wynwood to the south were being reborn as blank canvases.
Unsurprisingly, the renaissance fueled a vibrant creative arts community which is pulling in locals and in-the-know tourists in bigger numbers than ever, and a blossoming restaurant, bar and food truck scene only adds to the buzz.
One of the most popular attractions is Wynwood Walls, a permanent outdoor exhibition of murals featuring some of the world's most famous streets artists which we previously wrote about in our post on seeing Miami's street art by Vespa. Wynwood also hosts a monthly Second Saturday Gallery Night, where each venue offers entertainment and refreshments and opens their doors till late.
A winter of art
Miami's biggest art event - which is also the most important contemporary art fair in the Americas - is Art Basel Miami Beach, held every year in December with hundreds of galleries from around the world taking part. The main exhibition space at the Miami Beach Convention Center is primarily aimed at dealers and collectors, but other satellite events are held in art galleries throughout Wynwood and the Design District, and in co-ordination with some of Miami's major cultural venues such as the Miami Art Museum, The Museum of Contemporary Art and Gusman Theater.
December is also the best time of year to experience free public art, with large exhibitions on display throughout the beaches and parks of Miami's South Beach neighbourhood and in Bayfront Park in downtown Miami. Nearly all galleries and art-related venues in the area host some kind of special event or show during this period, to take advantage of the inpouring of extra art-loving visitors.
Some of the additional events taking place include the Focus Miami Photo Fair devoted to both vintage and contemporary photography, and an installation of seven citywide pianos from Pop-up Piano Miami. This year also sees the fifth edition of Art Asia which highlights the works of emerging Asian artists, along with a focus on west coast artists at Aqua 12 at the Aqua Hotel. Tribal art and jewellery from Africa, Oceania and the Americas is on display at Tribal Art Miami and there'll be a host of multimedia exhibits and immersive environments at Context. Most satellite and other events take place during Miami's 'Art Week', 3-9 December. Art Basel itself takes place from 6-9 December. Visit the website for more information and tickets.
Virgin Atlantic operate daily direct flights to Miami from London Heathrow.
Header photo © Rob React
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About the author: MaxineMaxine Sheppard
Maxine is the editor of the Virgin Atlantic blog. Travel and music are her joint first loves, and despite having written for Virgin for more years than she cares to remember she still loves nothing more than jumping on a plane in search of new sights and new sounds.