Museums and Miami — these are words that may not be uttered often enough in the same breath nationally. All too often, each of these words is thought about in its stereotypical sense: temples of culture and fun and sun.
Now, there’s national recognition of the new reality for museums and Miami that we’re celebrating this month. North Miami’s Museum of Contemporary Art (MoCA) officially was named as one of the top 10 museums and libraries in the nation and received the National Medal for Museum and Library Service.
This award is bestowed by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, an independent federal agency that inspires the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning and cultural and civic engagement. The Institute looked at Miami, saw a museum that was redefining public engagement, and bestowed the nation’s highest award for service to the community on our very own MoCA.
You can go to MoCA and experience superb exhibitions, programs and concerts that clearly are on par with any in the nation. But the Institute’s national medal almost takes this for granted when it looks at candidates for this prestigious award. It’s the innovative and inspiring work that MoCA is doing to reach thousands of children, teens and adults that this award recognizes and celebrates.
Miami is forging a new kind of cultural life — one that embraces diversity and breaks the rules regularly by forging a new way of building relationships among artists, audiences and our museums and theaters. The Museum of Contemporary Art is at the forefront of this movement. The national medal deservedly puts the spotlight on the museum’s programs to keep kids in school, work with female detainees in juvenile detention centers, and engage people in its neighborhood to experience the wonder and fun of the arts.
Bonnie Clearwater, the museum’s executive director and chief curator; her talented staff and the museum’s dedicated board of directors have demonstrated leadership, passion and a tireless commitment to making our community a better place. They have earned the nation’s highest honor for libraries and museums through programs that begin with the idea that the arts can change people’s lives and build stronger communities.
Miami-Dade County, through our Department of Cultural Affairs, is proud to be a supporter of the Museum of Contemporary Art. We ask you to join us in applauding this outstanding community institution for receiving this honor and for its superb service to our community. Better yet, go to our community’s great museums and libraries. Perhaps you will consider starting with North Miami’s Museum of Contemporary Art, one of our nation’s best.
Michael Spring, director, Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs, Miami