The Bass Museum was founded in 1963 through the donation of a private collection of Renaissance and Baroque works of art to the City of Miami Beach by John and Johanna Bass. The founding collection consisted of 500 works, primarily European Old Master paintings, textiles and religious sculptures. Today, the museum’s permanent collection includes European painting and sculpture from the 15th century to present; Seventh to 20th-century textiles, tapestries and ecclesiastical vestments and artifacts; 20th and 21st-century North American, Latin American, Asian and Caribbean art; Photographs, prints and drawings; and modern and contemporary architecture and design with emphasis on the pre and postwar design history of Miami Beach.
A small selection of works in museum’s permanent collection is on view in the Education Department’s Art History Lab.
Milestones in history
1963 The Bass Museum was founded by the City of Miami Beach in 1963 when it accepted the donation of a private collection of Renaissance and Baroque works of art by John and Johanna Bass, part time residents of Miami Beach, formerly of Vienna, Austria.
1964 Bass Museum of Art opened its doors in the former Miami Beach Library and Art Center. The building, designed by Russell Pancoast, is considered an outstanding example of Art Deco architecture and is now historically designated, by both the National Register of Historic Places and the City of Miami Beach.
1980 Diane Camber was hired as Executive Director and for the next thirty years, professionalized museum operations, obtained AAM accreditation, produced scholarly exhibitions and successfully ran a capital campaign for a building expansion, developing the museum into a significant cultural institution.
2002 Arata Isozaki-designed Bass Museum of Art building expansion takes place, opening with the groundbreaking Globe Miami Island exhibition
2008 George Lindemann became President of the Board of Directors and Silvia Karman Cubiñá was appointed as Executive Director. Aligning with rapid urban development of City of Miami Beach, support from the John L. and James S. Knight Foundation and the success of Art Basel Miami Beach, Bass Museum undergoes rapid institutional growth, both programmatically and increased attendance, support and visibility.
2013 City of Miami Beach approves a $7.5 million grant to support a new wing to allow for enhanced education and exhibition programs. Arata Isozaki is reengaged as Design Consultant with David Gauld as architect.
2014 The 50th anniversary of the founding of the Bass Museum of Art was marked by record attendance, outstanding media coverage, and a significant increase in support from both individuals and foundations. A $500,000 grant from The W.K. Kellogg Foundation has enabled the launch of new outreach programs to engage children and families through art literacy projects in seven under-served Miami Dade County neighborhoods.
2015 Galleries closed in mid-May for the first phase of the internal expansion of the museum building. The renovation will reconfigure the existing footprint to allow for an almost 50% increase in space available for exhibitions, educational programs, public areas and more. In October, the museum will launch bassX, a series of solo artist projects, talks and events, which will be held in a pop-up gallery space at the Miami Beach Regional Library, 227 22nd Street, Miami Beach, across the street from the museum. Education programs for children and families will also be held at the Miami Beach Regional Library.