The Bass Museum of Art was founded in 1964 through the donation of a private collection by John and Johanna Bass to the City of Miami Beach. The museum opened in what was formerly the Miami Beach Public Library and Art Center, a 1930s Art Deco building designed by Russell Pancoast. The building itself already had a rich history on Miami Beach as the first public exhibition space for art in South Florida.
In 2001, the original museum building was renovated, and a new wing, designed by renowned architect Arata Isozaki, was added to house galleries, offices and a museum shop. The new galleries gave the museum a total of 16,000 square feet of exhibition space, essential for the presentation of temporary exhibitions and continued growth.
In 2009, The Bass experienced another wave of institutional growth as it consolidated its governance in a 501c3 non-profit corporation, hired a new director and developed a new board. The museum re-focused its mission and programming to reflect the new development of Miami Beach as an art destination, catering to the evolving and diverse nature of Miami Beach residents and tourists.
In December 2016, The Bass concludes its long awaited transformation and reopens to the public. Again working with architect Arata Isozaki with consultation from David Gauld, the renovation expands the internal structure to create an almost 50 percent increase in programmable space, including three new galleries and a designated education facility to better serve expanded programs and increased attendance.