The Pérez Art Museum Miami is growing its collection, thanks to recent acquisitions and a donation of 100 works from the personal collection of Miami developer Craig Robins.
The announcement comes as director Franklin Sirmans finishes his first six months at the helm of the contemporary art museum. Many of the donations, including Robins’ and cash gifts from other supporters, were made in honor of Sirmans.
“Franklin Sirmans has got such a fine reputation as a curator and a person,” said Aaron Podhurst, the chairman of the PAMM board of trustees. “And I think he’s a huge part of [the acquisitions].”
Robins, who made a previous donation of 102 pieces of artwork from his personal collection in 2013, said he and his wife, Jackie Soffer, were inspired by Sirmans’ arrival to make a second donation that included works by contemporary artists Jedediah Caesar, Patty Chang and Justin Lieberman. It is one of the largest art donations in the museum’s history. The museum did not release a value for the works.
“I just think Franklin is an extraordinary person in the art world, and it’s a real coup that we were able to convince him to live and work in our community,” Robins said. “We wanted to celebrate his arrival.”
Sirmans, who joined the museum in October as the first African American to serve as PAMM director, said he was touched by the recent donations.
“It’s really nice, and I’m excited and honored by the many acquisitions that are coming in now,” Sirmans said. “There are several that really make me excited for the possibilities for the future.”
Besides the donation from Robins’ collection, the museum received large-scale sculptures for its sculpture garden and works from recent PAMM exhibitions that will now be permanently displayed in the museum.
Coming to the sculpture garden are large-scale works by Ernesto Neto and Pablo Atchugarry, donated by museum namesake Jorge M. Pérez.
Works seen in recent PAMM exhibitions include works by Nari Ward, Firelei Báez and Romare Bearden. Two were acquired with funds provided by Pérez, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the PAMM Ambassadors for African American Art. The Báez work was purchased with funds from Rose Ellen Greene and Greg Ferrero.
The PAMM Collectors Council also purchased several new pieces of art, including works by Carmen Herrera, Taryn Simon and John Akomfrah. A six-hour film from Stan Douglas purchased in conjunction with the collectors council at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, where Sirmans previously worked, will be on view through Sept. 25.
Also acquired through gifts and purchases were works by Tauba Auerbach, Yto Barrada, Mark Bradford, Hew Locke, Theaster Gates, Charles Gaines, Elliott Hundley, Youssef Nabil and Lorraine O’Grady. Donors included David Hoberman, Beth Swofford, Joan Weberman, Pérez and wife Darlene, the Knight Foundation and PAMM Ambassadors for African American Art.
The gifts and acquisitions bring the museum’s total holdings to about 1,800 works of art.
But for Sirmans, the donation from Robins, which includes almost every medium of art, was particularly special.
“It’s really nice to accept an acquisition for someone who has been so committed to international contemporary art, and so committed to the city of Miami and its culture,” Sirmans said.
Robins, who serves as the chairman for the Collectors Council, said he had been aware of Sirmans and his work in the art world even before he arrived at PAMM.
“Great curators are people who can analyze what’s going on and what’s important to be recognized at the right time, and Franklin has had an amazing sense of just connecting with the art world and understanding what’s happening,” he said.
Sirmans said that in addition to expanding the museum’s collections and education programs, he plans to continue to work to expand the museum’s endowment. But the artwork, he said, is a foundation for that progress.
“It’s really a great way to keep that whole endeavor going,” he said.
The first of the new acquisitions will go on display this week.