Miami Travel: The Art Collector’s Guide

Miami skyline. Photo by Ryan Parker via Unsplash.

December’s arrival signals the time for art collectors to fly south for the winter; fleeing colder climates and escaping to Miami’s warm embrace for the run of Art Basel Miami Beach. Since 2002, the venerable fair has offered works from both established and emerging artists alike, while serving as North America’s premier international arts event. The annual event draws artists, art collectors, professionals, and admirers from across the globe, and will be held from December 5–9 at the Miami Beach Convention Center.

What to See at Art Basel Miami Beach

Expect more than 200 of the world’s leading modern and contemporary art galleries to serve up works by over 4,000 artists, whose media ranges from painting and sculpture to video and digital art. The fair is divided into several sectors, each with a different focus. The “Nova” sector features never-before-seen pieces made within the last three years. The “Edition” sector is dedicated solely to prints and multiples, allowing visitors to see rare examples. In the “Kabinett” sector, galleries present a curated exhibition by one or multiple artists of their choice, allowing exhibitors to showcase their rising stars. Other sectors include focuses on public art, film, and art historical projects.

Anyone who’s visited Art Basel Miami Beach in past years knows that the fun doesn’t stop as you exit the convention center. During the long weekend, the whole city of Miami bustles with a range of satellite fairs, art tours, parties, and special museum events.

Art Basel Miami Beach

Art Basel Miami Beach 2017. © Art Basel.

Satellite Art Fairs

Design Miami

Think of this as the high-end interior designer’s answer to Art Basel. More than just a marketplace for furniture and lighting, Design Miami showcases museum-quality decorative art and design of the 20th and 21st centuries. Visitors can expect to see furniture and home accessories that will rival the artwork at Art Basel.

NADA Art Fair

If you’re looking to find the next Andy Warhol or Jeff Koons, you might spot them over at NADA, the art fair developed by the New Art Dealers Alliance. This fair shines the spotlight on underexposed artists, giving their work a chance to be seen by collectors they wouldn’t normally have access to.


Entrance to UNTITLED Art Fair, 2017

Untitled, Miami Beach, 2017 exterior. Courtesy of UNTITLED, Art. Photo by Casey Kelbaugh.

A short walk through the sands of Miami Beach will get you to UNTITLED. Located right along the ocean, Untitled is in its seventh year of bringing visitors contemporary art from countries around the world. With many galleries showcasing their best artists, they also feature solo exhibitions, as well as artist-run and nonprofit exhibitions.

Special Collections

Rubell Family Collection

Founded in 1964, the Rubell Family Collection is one of the world’s largest, privately owned collections that is available to the public. Here, you can find work by internationally renowned artists such as Jean-Michel Basquiat, Jeff Koons, Yayoi Kusama, and Cindy Sherman. As if that weren’t enough to draw you in, emerging artists at the forefront of the contemporary art scene can also be seen on exhibit.

The Margulies Collection at the Warehouse

Fittingly located within the Wynwood Arts District, The Margulies Collection is a non-profit institution that exhibits an expansive body of work amassed by art collector Martin Z. Margulies. Committed to the study and enjoyment of the visual arts, the collection showcases 20th– and 21st-century sculpture, video, photography, painting, and installation work by international artists. Recent exhibitions included works by Pop artists Jasper Johns and Claes Oldenburg, as well as works by artist David Claerbout. Their permanent exhibit includes works by John Chamberlain, Willem de Kooning, and Donald Judd.


Institute of Contemporary Art

Fueled by Art Basel’s international acclaim and popularity, the Institute of Contemporary Art Miami was founded in 2014, and opened its new building in 2017 within Miami’s Design District. The ground floor focuses on emerging local and regional artists, while the rest of the museum has exhibited everything from Pablo Picasso and Andy Warhol to web-based art and large installations.

Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami (ICA Miami). Photo by Iwan Baan via Wikimedia Commons.

Pérez Art Museum Miami

PAMM is considered among many to be the crown jewel of art museums in the southern United States. Their exhibitions display modern and contemporary art while highlighting Miami’s diverse artistic community. Visiting PAMM is an experience in itself, complete with waterfront dining, a bookstore, gift store, and gardens.

Vizcaya Museum & Gardens

Had your fill of contemporary art? Head over to Vizcaya Museum & Gardens, a former villa and estate located on Biscayne Bay. With a landscape influenced by the Italian Renaissance, buildings designed in the Mediterranean Revival style, and Baroque elements incorporated throughout, you’ll feel like you’ve left Miami completely. The villa’s museum houses over 70 rooms decorated with decorative art and furnishings from the 15th to the 19th centuries. After making your way through the museum, be sure to walk through the expansive courtyard and gardens.

Public Art

Wynwood Walls

What began in 2009 with just a few works of public art within a large stock of blank warehouse buildings, the Wynwood Walls have become synonymous with the heart Miami’s art scene and have brought the world’s greatest graffiti and street art to the city. Currently, over 50 artists from 16 countries are represented on over 80,000 square feet of walls. The Wynwood District, once an abandoned warehouse district, is now booming with restaurants, cafes, bars, shops, and artist studios. Grab yourself a latte and get lost within the vibrant walls of this vibrant neighborhood.

Wynwood Arts District, Miami

Wynwood Arts District, Miami. Photo by Daniel Di Palma via Wikimedia Commons.

Looking for more? See more travel destinations for art collectors.