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Miami’s newest art museum pledged free entry and no use of public money. Promise kept.

Norman and Irma Braman stand in a third-floor exhibit at the Institute for Contemporary Art in 2017. To the left is Philip Guston’s The Door. To the right is Pablo Picasso’s “Le peintre et son modèle” (The Painter and his Model).
Norman and Irma Braman stand in a third-floor exhibit at the Institute for Contemporary Art in 2017. To the left is Philip Guston’s The Door. To the right is Pablo Picasso’s “Le peintre et son modèle” (The Painter and his Model). emichot@miamiherald.com

Miami’s newest art museum promised free admission and no use of taxpayer money, and it’s delivering on both fronts.

On Saturday, the Institute for Contemporary Art, Miami, will announce a $500,000 grant from City National Bank of Florida that will cover free admission to the Design District museum for the next five years. An ICA spokesman said the announcement will come during its annual fundraising event, the 365 Party.

The grant also means that the ICA, whose founders promised to use no taxpayer money to develop or run the facility, has now met a $75 million fundraising goal fully through private contributions, a spokesman said. That amount covers development of the museum and its new building, which was fully financed by philanthropists and art collectors Irma and Norman Braman, as well as programming, exhibitions and other operations dating back to the ICA’s founding in temporary quarters in 2014.

As a condition for their support, the Bramans insisted that ICA admission be free in perpetuity. Norman Braman, a billionaire auto dealer, has been a vocal critic of the use of taxpayer money for museums and sports facilities.

The ICA, which on Dec. 1 will mark a full year in its new Design District home, in addition will announce that it has seen 100,000 visitors to the building so far, a number administrators say surpassed projections for first-year attendance.

“From day one, ICA Miami has been a resource and gathering place for our community, a cultural destination, and a platform for presenting the most innovative art of our time.” said Alex Gartenfeld, ICA Miami artistic director, in a statement. “Importantly, we’ve stayed true to our commitment to offering free access for all, and we will continue to do so thanks to the generous support of City National Bank and so many like-minded companies, organizations and individuals who have fueled our sustainability campaign.”

The ICA was born from the breakup of the publicly owned Museum of Contemporary Art in North Miami, where Irma Braman led the board of directors.

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