PAMM Opens Today, and It's More Beautiful Than You Imagined
Two thousand words is too many for a Wednesday morning, but too few to do the new Pérez Art Museum Miami justice. So we'll put it simply: the new Herzog and De Meuron (HDM) edifice on museum island is, no exaggeration, exquisite.
All Photos by Travis Cohen
Naturally, in this story, we'll be describing the space in more detail than that. But it's important for you to understand from the get-go that this complex is fucking amazing. Miami has not had such a significant injection of vivaciousness and cultural voracity in architectural form since the Downtown skyline began to soar with cocaine christened towers of glass and steel and light in the 1980s, or perhaps even the Art Deco resuscitation of our bedraggled city after the hurricane of September 1926. HDM have given birth to a new nerve center for communal convalescence, a ganglion where Miami's 5.4 million human synapses can fire at will beside the beauty of Biscayne Bay.
Vanessa Martin The view from PAMM to the Arsht Center.
The history of Museum Park is pock-marked with a series of half-started, half-aborted projects to give the city a new art museum, a fact that isn't surprising in the slightest considering Miami's penchant for half-assedness when it comes to growing our cultural infrastructure. And yet, somehow, PAMM has actually come to fruition - and in a remarkably short span of time at that.
As soon as you set foot inside the 200,000 square feet of PAMM, you have the sense that you're walking into a very special place. That feeling is emphasized when you have the opportunity to see it and learn about it alongside the people who made the concept a reality. From explanations by Thom Collins, the museum director, to Jacques Herzog and Christine Binswanger of HDM, to Patrick Blanc, the French botanist who designed much of the landscaping and greenery that will be an integral part of the museum experience, one immediately comes to understand the gravity that this project carried for all those involved. These people clearly cared a great deal about delivering something extraordinary by the time Art Basel rolled around in December 2013.
"You know enough about Miami to know that this is a critical consideration," Collins said at yesterday's press preview of the newly minted museum, "and that is, if you've spent time here, you know that this is a city in which there are very few places to gather, places that are free and accessible and that put you in touch with the environment - the reason that so many people are here in the first place - that actually are comfortable to be. And so, the last driver in this project was the need for a social space unlike other social spaces in the city."
From Left to Right: Christine Binswanger and Thomas Collins
And while he and the rest of the players responsible for developing PAMM may have described the new museum's social space as the "last driver in this project," the reality is that for any Miami native, the initiative to create a space for the people to pass the time together and appreciate the splendor of the city will stand out as the most distinctive and moving aspect of the new museum.