FIU’s Museums Contain the History of Miami

Entrance of The Wolfsonian - Photo by Carolina Villagra

By Carolina Villagra // Staff Writer

Florida International University values the knowledge and insight that art brings to the community. Creativity stems from the minds of leaders that have a vision for the future. FIU’s Patricia and Phillip Frost Art Museum, The Jewish Museum of Florida and The Wolfsonian Museum are depictions of FIU’s love for culture, history and the arts.

The College of Communication, Architecture + the Arts (CARTA) helps students transform their creativity into a beautiful creation with resources dedicated to those who are willing to learn. Many artists contribute to the facilities that are home to artworks that define our community.

The collection of artworks and designs expand outside the walls of the museums when visitors share their experience with the world.

The Jewish Museum of Florida – FIU

Main Gallery of JMOF-FIU – Photo by Carolina Villagra

Located in South Beach, the Jewish Museum of Florida – FIU (JMOF-FIU) started as a place of worship for the Jewish community of Miami Beach in the late 1920s. The former sacred space has been through many renovations before it became the museum we know today.

Formerly known as Congregation Beth Jacob, the original synagogue transformed into a museum in 1995 when the first collection of the museum (MOSAIC) gained popularity in the community.

The second building followed as the Jewish community slowly moved away 10 years later.

Being the oldest of Miami-Dade County, the erstwhile orthodox synagogues were listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1981. The buildings’ significance to the community is what led FIU to be a part of its history in 2012.

A Section of Barbara Streisand exhibition – Photo by Carolina Villagra

Now, JMOF-FIU exhibits works that connect Jewish history and Florida’s multicultural society.
One of the gallery’s latest exhibitions, “Hello Gorgeous”, is one that honors the life of Barbra Streisand, a Brooklyn-born Jewish woman who grew to stardom despite critics calling her too plain and Jewish.

The museum’s main exhibition “Mosaic” can still be explored within the art gallery.

You can find the museum at 301 Washington Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139. Visit their website for the latest events and exhibitions.

Artwork at JMOF-FIU – Photo by Carolina Villagra

The Wolfsonian – FIU

Painting from Aerial Vision Exhibition – Photo by Carolina Villagra

Mitchell Wolfson Jr. housed his personal art collection found in the Wolfsonian – FIU in 1992. Miami-Dade College originally displayed the collection in its Downtown Campus as the Mitchell Wolfson Jr. Gallery.

The history within the building’s structure is what motivated the Wolfson Foundation to move the gallery in the first place. Located at Washington Avenue and 10th Street, the Washington Storage Company was built in 1927.

The storage unit was used to store furniture and cars for the winter weather that the city of Miami once endured.

In 1997, Wolfson donated his entire collection to FIU marking The Wolfsonian – FIU as one of the largest art collections to be owned by a university.

Wolfson’s generosity and love for design made the Wolfsonian – FIU what it is today. The building now has several exhibitions, a library and keeps Wolfson’s prized collection safe.

Glass & Ceramics Piece from “Shameless” Exhibit – Photo by Carolina Villagra

The latest exhibitions at the museum connect perspective and creativity. Themes that are evident in Wolfson’s collection.

Installation of “Aerial Vision” – Photo by Carolina Villagra

You can find “Aerial Vision,” “Shameless” and “sustainabItaly- People, Planet and Prosperity” at 1001 Washington Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139.

For more information about events, exhibitions, or library visits, check out

Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum

Second Floor of Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum – Photo by Carolina Villagra

Once known as the Art Museum at FIU, the 46,000 sq. ft. building displays artwork from diverse cultures and time periods. The visual arts gallery of FIU upgraded to a museum in 1984 when it was accredited by the American Association of Museums.

Outdoor Sculpture “Journey’s End” Outside of Museum – Photo by Carolina Villagra

In 2001, the museum became an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institute making it the first in the country to be affiliated with the respected museum located in Washington D.C. In 2003, the structure was officially renamed Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum after their $2 million donation that helped fund renovations to the art gallery.

The spectacle is open to the community free of charge at FIU’s Modesto A. Maidique Campus on Eighth street. Sculptures can be found throughout the campus as part of the gallery.

Installations from Disrupting Anti-Blackness – Photo by Carolina Villagra

Exhibitions currently open are “Tesoro,” displayed until Nov. 6, “Retrospectrum: Bob Dylan,” open until April 17, and “Disrupting Anti-Blackness,” up until May 29.

Anyone interested in upcoming events is encouraged to visit for more information.

Miami Beach Urban Studio (MBUS)

Closeup ofAll That Glitters” by Gianna DiBartolomeo – Photo by Carolina Villagra

Located on Lincoln Road Mall, this structure is the heart of a historical community that thrives on art deco. Built in the 1940s, Albert Anis designed the iconic architecture of the 420 Lincoln Road building.

FIU became a part of the establishment on Sept. 9, 2011. MBUS would house one of the largest 3D printing workshops of its kind. 

Art Exhibition Found in CARTA Innovation Labs – Photo by Carolina Villagra

Upon the studio’s inauguration, MBUS created a space for the students of the College of Communication, Architecture + the Arts (CARTA). You can find classrooms, performance studios, practice rooms and exhibitions on the fourth floor of the building. 

There are many resources in the CARTA Innovation Labs where students have access to 2D/3D printers, scanners, plotters and laser cutters.

Hallway Adorned with Photos by Gary Monroe – Photo by Carolina Villagra

Along with the many resources MBUS has to offer, art decorates the walls of this productive institution. You can find “How Do We Live” inside of the Innovation Labs. A photo exhibition by Gary Monroe titled “Refusenik Photos” hangs along the path to the workroom.

The studio hosts public events that enhance the community’s understanding of architecture and design in the arts.  More information about the events and exhibitions can be found here,

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