Helping People

Art museum reaches out to school children

Hundreds of excited, smiling third-graders exit school buses and walk up to the doors of the Pérez Art Museum Miami along Biscayne Bay. The influx of young patrons is the result of a partnership with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, whose goal is to provide every Miami-Dade County third-grader with free transportation, entry and a special tour of the museum.

Bringing in third-graders is one part of PAMM’s effort to get the community into the museum, and art out into Miami-Dade. The foundation joined with corporate sponsors such as Bank of America, Western Union and JPMorgan Chase & Co., who are helping to define the museum as both a cultural destination and educational institution.

“We are Miami’s museum, and everyone growing up in Miami should be aware it’s a community resource,” said Emily Mello, deputy director of education and public programs at PAMM. “The programs that we provide are important to introducing new audiences to the museum.”

Programs offered by the museum are Brick by Brick, a program for at-risk teens focusing on architecture and community planning; PAMM in the Neighborhood, a summer arts camp held at county parks; and the Teen Arts Council, a group of high school students that create content and projects for their peers. PAMM also offers educational programs for adults and very young children ages 2 to 6.

“The museum’s mission is education,” said Leann Standish, PAMM’s deputy director for external affairs. “Our tangible everyday impact is our third-grade program.”

The museum also offers free admission for families on Second Saturdays. For years, Target has given six figures to underwrite the program but has pulled its sponsorship in order to focus on philanthropy in classrooms. PAMM is looking for a new sponsor.

“Another larger piece of that [outreach] program is to let people know broadly in the community that we’re here to provide learning experiences,” Mello said. “It’s one thing to have a museum, but if nobody knows about it and no one is invited to it, then it risks being ineffective.”

Marjorie “Maggie” Gault, 16, a junior at Miami Beach Senior High School, says she has loved being one of 12 students in the Teen Arts Program.

“To me, it’s the world,” Gault said. “I got to be more creative and open-minded toward people’s views. They definitely changed me and I want to go into the arts because of them.”

For the last seven years, PAMM has celebrated the South Florida corporate community’s support at an annual luncheon. In September, more than 300 leaders representing 30 companies from Miami’s business community attended the event. Standish said that about 20 percent of the attendees were new to corporate sponsorship.

“Miami corporations have helped PAMM become a major cultural destination,” Standish said. “Their generosity makes that possible. It allows for people to come into to downtown for the day and see something that they would never get to see.”

Local companies, like Decobike, are also helping to change some of the the museum’s programming. Decobike, now featuring a CITI Bike logo, brings patrons into Wynwood, where curators tour the walls there.

“PAMM has brought art and art culture to the forefront of visibility in the community where it probably didn’t exist 10 years ago,” said Colby Reese, Decobike’s chief marketing officer. “They’ve helped us spur on the public by wanting to enjoy art by bike, which is pretty neat.”

If you go:

What: PAMM Free Second Saturdays presented by Target

Where: 1103 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, FL 33132

When: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on the second Saturday of each month

Cost: Free

For Information: Call 786-345-5643 or email