By: Brandon Rosado // Contributing Writer
The doors to the galleries of The Wolfsonian—Florida International University closed earlier this month and will remain closed until mid November as the museum focuses on installing new renovations to enhance visitor experience and including new exhibits for Miami’s upcoming Art Week.
While it is not unusual for South Florida museums to take some time off in the lead up to Art Basel Miami, this hiatus entails more than just preparation of new shows.
The first floor of their building is “undergoing a complete transformation” under the direction of Dutch designer and artist Bas van Beek for an upcoming exhibition called “Shameless,” according to Meg Floryan, the Assistant Director of Content & Student Engagement.
Van Beek, who is known for dynamically repurposing designs of the past, will take over the museum’s lobby and surrounding rooms to create an interactive, jewel-box exhibition of historically inspired patterns, colors, and objects.
3D-printed objects made in collaboration with FIU students and the Royal Academy in The Hague, will also be on display in this exhibit.
Van Beek co-taught alongside FIU architecture professor Nick Gelpi in the spring of 2021 mentoring students in the art of “reverse-engineering existing historical designs, investigating their form and aesthetics, and applying those principles to create new [pieces],” according to a museum press release about the exhibition.
Each piece will be displayed alongside the object from the collection of the Wolfsonian that served as muse.
“We anticipate that these provocative design pieces and the enveloping exhibition design will not only draw in the crowds during Miami Art Week, but also have great visibility from the street through our glass lobby doors,” said Floryan on these student-designed pieces.
Meanwhile, on the sixth floor of the museum, the stage is being set for “Aerial Vision,” The Wolfsonian’s take on the development of modern-age technology – namely airplanes and skyscrapers.
The exhibit “touches on the hope, optimism, and the excitement these inventions sparked, as well as the darker side – fear of falling bombs, the need for camouflage, feelings of alienation and isolation in growing cities,” according to another press release. One notable piece from this exhibition includes Louis Francis’ 20-foot mural of Miami, painted in 1925.
The next weeks will focus on the installation of these two shows, The Wolfsonian’s first major exhibitions post-COVID-19.
Alongside the exhibits, the museum will also unveil a few subtle upgrades to their historic building.
The windows on the sixth and seventh floors are being updated so that visitors will have views beyond the galleries, the skylight above the lobby fountain is being updated to provide for better insulation and preservation, and a few “bells and whistles for the digital age” are being added to the elevator.
The museum will remain closed until Nov. 18, but visitors can still visit the Design Store and connect with The Wolfsonian-FIU through their digital experiences. Visit the museum’s website for more information.