Let’s face it. You can’t live on a steady diet of the beach, bars and croquetas. (Although you can try.)
But Miami is also a destination for arts and culture, and it’s a town of museums. You can find them in the Art Deco district, on the water, in the Design District, in trendy Wynwood.
There are unforgettable galleries to wander through, of course. But there are also spots to explore scientific wonders, the history of Miami and some of Florida’s best botanical gardens. There are hands-on experiences for kids and for adults only an erotic art museum.
Here’s your guide to the museums of Miami.
Bakehouse Art Complex
At this nonprofit Wynwood institution, founded in 1986 at what used a former industrial bakery, resident artists get space to create and exhibit their works. There are approximately 60 studios and two galleries, a classroom, print room, photo lab and ceramics facilities as well as woodworking and welding area.
- Where: 561 NW 32nd St., Miami; 305-576-2828; www.bacfl.org
- Hours: Daily noon-5 p.m.
- Admission: Free
Bass Museum of Art
After a massive two-and-a-half year renovation by architect David Gauld, The Bass reopened in 2017 with 50 percent more programmable space, including four new galleries, a museum store and a cafe. Exhibits focus on highlights of contemporary art.
- Where: 2100 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; 305-673-7530; thebass.org
- Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday
- Admission: Adults $15, seniors (ages 65+) and students with I.D. $8, youth (ages 7-18) $8, free for members, Miami Beach residents, children 6 and under, and active-duty and retired military personal (including 1 guest). Group discounts available. Docent tours available.
Institute of Contemporary Art Miami
The Institute of Contemporary Art is dedicated to showing works of established and emerging artists in the heart of Miami’s Design District.
- Where: 61 NE 41st St., Miami Design District; 305-901-5272; www.icamiami.org
- Hours: 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday
- Admission: Free, but guests are urged to reserve tickets online ahead of time.
Lowe Art Museum University of Miami
Miami’s first art museum, The Lowe started in three classrooms at the University of Miami in 1950. Since then it has amassed more than 19,000 pieces of art and moved into a 21,000-square-foot museum. Five thousand years of art adorn the galleries from the museum’s permanent collection, which boasts Greco-Roman marble statues and painted pottery, Mayan and Incan carvings, Baroque and Renaissance oil paintings, African textiles, an expansive Asian art collection, and Modern and Contemporary masterworks. There is also a dedicated pavilion for contemporary glass and studio arts.
- Where: 1301 Stanford Dr., Coral Gables; 305-284-3535; www.lowemuseum.org
- Open: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday and noon-4 p.m. Sunday
- Admission: Adults $12.50, students and seniors $8, children under 12 and UM students, faculty and staff free
The Margulies Collection at the Warehouse
At this 45,000-square-foot warehouse in Miami’s Wynwood Art District, the stark, white-walled gallery showcases photography, video, sculpture and installation art owned by local real estate developer Martin Z. Margulies, whose collection focuses on presenting large bodies of work by artists that represent shifts in key artistic movements of the 20th and 21st centuries, including Bauhaus, European modernism, social realism, American street photography and more. The warehouse closes to install new art every May through September.
- Where: 591 NW 27th St., Miami; 305-576-1051; www.margulieswarehouse.com
- Hours: 11 a.m- 4 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday ctober – April; closed May – September
- Admission: Adults $10, Florida students with valid ID free, all other students $5.
Miami Dade College’s Museum of Art and Design
The Museum of Art and Design, part of Miami Dade College, is dedicated to showcasing unique cultural, historical and educational exhibitions and preserving a permanent art collection, Freedom Tower archives and a newly established design collection.
- Where: Freedom Tower, 600 Biscayne Blvd., Miami
- Hours: 1-6 p.m. Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sunday; and 1-8 p.m. Thursdays.
- Admission: $12 general, $8 senior and military, $5 students, children under 12 enter free. MDC students, faculty and staff enter free. Ticketed events vary in price.
Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami
MOCA presents a mix of local and international artists in its galleries. Enter and find a line of palm trees and a round reflection pool, now an interactive wishing well. MOCA’s indoor exhibitions encompass 1970s film, Mexican modernism, fashion design, architecture, embroidery, animation and much more.
MOCA also hosts monthly “Jazz at MOCA” outdoor concerts at 8 p.m. on the last Friday of the month.
- Where: 770 NE 125th St., North Miami; 305-893-6211; www.mocanomi.org
- Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Friday; 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
- Admission: Adults $10, seniors/students with ID $3. Free parking.
Pérez Art Museum Miami
This impressive waterfront 200,000-square-foot facility overlooks Biscayne Bay and was designed by Pritzker Prize winning architects Herzog & de Meuron. The permanent collection focuses on international art of the 20th and 21st centuries that reflect Miami’s cosmopolitan makeup. The building also features lush hanging multi-dimensional gardens and a terrific restaurant, Verde. On Saturdays, watch the cruise ships leave the Port of Miami.
- Where: 1103 Biscayne Blvd., Miami; 305-375-3000; www.pamm.org
- Hours: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday and Tuesday; 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Thursday; 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday and Saturday; closed Wednesdays.
- Admission: Adults $16, students with ID, seniors 62 and over with ID and youth 7-18 years old $12.
The Patricia and Phillip Frost Art Museum
The Frost Art Museum, founded in 1977, offers programming that attracts national and international visitors and complements its exhibitions with a wide range of educational programs. The Steven and Dorothea Green Critics’ Lecture Series has featured internationally renowned artists, critics, curators and scholars including Christo, Susan Sontag, Frank Stella, Helen Frankenthaler, John Cage and Marina Abramović. The Kenan-Flagler Family Discovery Gallery serves as an innovative programming space that encourages children’s involvement in art through hands-on exploration.
- Where: Miami, Florida International University, Modesto Maidique Campus at 10975 SW 17th St.; 305-348-2890; https://frost.fiu.edu/
- Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday; noon- 5 p.m. Sunday
- Admission: Free
Rubell Family Collection
Housed in a 45,000 sq. ft. repurposed former drug and weapons confiscation center, the Rubell Family Collection opened in 1994. The museum houses a research library, sculpture garden, book store, and gift shop. Mera and Don Rubell along with their son Jason are devoted to capturing the zeitgeist of contemporary artists working around the world in all mediums. The collection often champions unknown artists while also collecting established artists, such as Keith Haring, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Cindy Sherman, Paul McCarthy and Kara Walker.
- Where: 95 NW 29th St., Miami; 305-573-6090; www.rfc.museum
- Hours: 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday from Dec. 12-June 29
- Admission: Adults $10, students with ID and seniors $5; under 18 or military free
Amid the sun and clamor of South Beach lies The Wolfsonian, an oddball sophisticate among neon clones. Modern-age eclecticism is the museum’s focus, and permanent and rotating exhibitions make use of The Wolf’s vast collection of American and European objects and art produced during the height of the modern age (1850s-1950s). Exhibitions here examine art and design as they relate to political, social, and technological issues.
- Where: 1001 Washington Ave., Miami Beach; 305-531-1001; www.wolfsonian.org
- Hours: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday; 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday; noon-6 p.m. Sunday. Closed Wednesday.
- Admission: Adults $10; seniors/students with ID/children 6–12 $5; kids under 6 and students, faculty and staff of the State University System of Florida free
World Erotic Art Museum
The World Erotic Art Museum houses erotic art from the private collection of internationally renowned antiques collector Naomi Wilzig. What’s on display is sensual but also historical and educational. The showrooms display erotic artifacts, paintings, sculptures and tapestries from all cultures ancient and modern. Marilyn Monroe pinups are right down the hall from Haitian voodoo fertility fetishes, and objects range in size from tiny ancient Greek nude figurines to a massive king-size bed carved from wood, complete with four suggestive posts.
- Where: 1205 Washington Ave., Miami Beach; 305-532-9336; www.weam.com
- Hours: M11 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 11 a.m.-midnight Friday-Sunday.
- Admission: Only adults 18 and older admitted; $20
Museums for kids
Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science
Located in downtown Miami’s Museum Park, the 250,000-sq.-ft. the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science explores and connects the science behind living ecosystems, the human body and mind, outer space, innovation and the wild frontier of technology. Central to the museum is the 500,000-gallon aquarium. Frost Science also features the cutting-edge full-dome Frost Planetarium. The museum’s Exploration Center houses permanent interactive exhibits, including Feathers to the Stars and River of Grass, along with a special exhibition gallery that hosts traveling exhibitions throughout the year.
- Where: Museum Park, 1101 Biscayne Blvd, Miami,; 305-434-9600; www.frostscience.org
- Hours: 9:30 a.m.-6 p.m. daily
- Admission: Adults $27.95 (online); kids 3-11 $18.95 (online); under 2 free. Yearly memberships are available.
Miami Children’s Museum
This 56,500-square-foot facility on Watson Island is recognized as one of the 10 largest children’s museums in the country. The museum includes more than a dozen galleries including a Castle of Dreams, Cruise Ship, Construction Zone, My Green Home, Pet Central, Port of Miami, Safety Zone, The Sea and Me and Supermarket. There’s also a KidSmart educational gift shop, a 200-seat auditorium and a Subway restaurant.
- Where: 980 MacArthur Causeway, Miami; 305-373-5437; www.miamichildrensmuseum.org
- Hours: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. daily
- Admission: $20
Vizcaya Museum and Gardens
Built in 1916, this Italian Renaissance and Baroque-style national historic landmark was the winter home of agricultural industrialist James Deering, who wanted the estate to resemble a 400-year-old Italian villa. Its formal gardens, hedge maze and terraces lie on 10 acres along Biscayne Bay. Thirty-four rooms containing 16th through 19th century North American, European and Asian decorative arts are open for public viewing. Follow the marble floors and arched ceilings to James Deering’s personal library with its camouflaged bookcase-door, or meander in the music room, designed for string melodies of its piano, harp and dulcimer.
Take a stroll among the collection of rare orchids in the David A. Klein Orchidarium or enjoy lunch with a view of the historic swimming pool at the cafe and shop. Explore on your own or with a guided or audio tour.
- Where: 3251 South Miami Ave., Miami; 305-250-9133; www.vizcaya.org
- Hours: 9:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Wednesday-Monday. Closed Tuesdays.
- Admission: Adults $22; seniors $16; ages 13-17 $15; kids 6-10 $10, 5 and under free
Gold Coast Railroad Museum
A must-see for model train collectors, Gold Coast hosts a collection of more than 40 passenger cars, freight cars, locomotives and other railway equipment. View “Ferdinand Magellan,” the private railway car of Franklin D. Roosevelt and only custom-made car ever built for a U.S. President in the 20th century. There’s a separate model train building, and on some weekends you can even ride a train.
- Where: 12450 SW 152nd St., Miami; 305-253-0063; www.goldcoastrailroadmuseum.org/
- Hours: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday; 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
- Admission: Adults $8, children 2-12 $6, children under 2 free.
HistoryMiami Museum, a Smithsonian affiliate, gathers, interprets and presents the history of Miami and the greater South Florida region as a cultural crossroads of the Americas. Founded in 1940, HistoryMiami Museum is the largest history museum in Florida, housing four permanent galleries and up to three traveling exhibits, an Archives and Research Center, the South Florida Folklife Center and a City Tours program. The museum is home to more than a million historic images and 30,000 three-dimensional artifacts, including gold and silver recovered from 17th and 18th century shipwrecks, artifacts from PanAm Airlines, and rafts that brought refugees to Miami.
- Where: 101 W. Flagler St., Miami; 305-375-1492; www.historymiami.org
- Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday; noon- 5 p.m. Sunday; closed Monday.
- Admission: Adults $10; seniors and students with ID $8; children (6-12) $5; children under 6 free
This moving memorial to the six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust was created in a park-like setting and includes a brief history of World War II. Survivors are available daily to speak with visitors and a new app is available with survivor testimony which is available on cell phones and other devices. For a fee, visitors can have a name added to the Memorial Wall.
- Where: 1933-1945 Meridian Ave., Miami Beach; 305-538-1663; www.holocaustmemorialmiamibeach.org
- Hours: 9:30 a.m.-10 p.m. daily
- Admission: Free
Jewish Museum of Florida
The Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU is the only museum dedicated to telling the story of more than 250 years of Florida Jewish history, arts and culture. It’s housed in two adjacent lovingly restored historic buildings that were once synagogues for Miami Beach’s first Jewish congregation. The original synagogue was built in 1929, and the second, built in 1936, was designed by Art Deco architect Henry Hohauser and features striking stained glass windows. In addition to changing exhibits, the core exhibition, “MOSAIC: Jewish Life in Florida, 1763 to Present,” is drawn from a permanent collection of over 100,000 objects.
- Where: 301 Washington Ave., Miami Beach; 305-672-5044; www.jmof.fiu.edu
- Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday; closed Monday
- Admission: Adults $12; seniors and students $8; families $24; , members/children under 6 free; free admission on Saturday
Wings Over Miami Air Museum
Established in 2001 by four military and classic plane enthusiasts, this museum functions as an educational, family-oriented tribute to veterans, aviators and aircraft history. The museum hangar houses military and vintage planes, like the B-59, 1942 Boeing Stearman, 1957 Ikarus and the GNAT, used by the British Yellowjacks and Red Arrows aerobatic team from 1964-1979. Other historical exhibits focus on aviation and World War II.
- Where: Kendall-Tamiami Executive Airport, 14710 SW 128 St., Miami; 305-233-5197; www.wingsovermiami.com
- Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday; closed Monday and Tuesday
- Admission: Adults $10, seniors $7, $6 children 4-12, children 3 and under free
Miami Beach Botanical Garden
Bringing balance to creeping urban sprawl are 2.6 acres of botanical gardens. The gardens specialize in orchids and bromeliads, creating a lush green space of tropical palms, trees and flowers. Walk by the “autograph tree,” which has been signed by tour guides over the years, and cross the bright red wooden bridge for a stroll in the Japanese Garden. Exploring the grounds is free, as are the garden’s many lectures and events, including lessons in tropical cooking, photography and horticulture.
- Where: 2000 Convention Center Drive, Miami Beach; 305-673-7256; www.mbgarden.org
- Hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday. Closed Monday.
- Admission: Free
Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden
Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden is an 83-acre living museum of tropical plants and wildlife. Plant collections include the continental U.S.’s only outdoor tropical rainforest, a Spiny Forest of Madagascar showcasing endangered plants and a Tropical Plant Conservatory housing two levels of rare palms, cycads, ferns, aroids, bromeliads and vines. Plant collections are found amid breathtaking vistas, water gardens, and lily pools. The Wings of the Tropics exhibit features hundreds of exotic butterflies from Central and South America, Southeast Asia and Africa. The garden hosts many events throughout the year, including the Chocolate, Orchid, and Mango Festivals.
- Where: 10901 Old Cutler Road, Coral Gables; 305-667-1651; www.fairchildgarden.org
- Hours: 9: 30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. daily
- Admission: Adults $25; seniors $18; children 6-17 $12; children under 5 free