Sunday, May 7, 2017

#ThankYouMiami for Miami Museum Month

The long-awaited Frost Museum of Science opens tomorrow in downtown Miami. As a major "science geek"—my Bachelor's and Master's degrees are in marine science—I can't wait to check it out and am amping hardcore about the gulf stream aquarium that is shaped like a martini glass. I'm planning to take advantage of their extended hours during opening weekend to stop by.

Turns out May is the perfect month to do so, not just because the Miami science museum will be brand-spanking new, but also because May is Miami Museum Month. For the occasion, local museums are offering special deals like "join one museum, see them all" and "buy one, get one free admission". Yesterday my mom, dad and I took advantage of the latter for a fun Saturday afternoon at the Pérez Art Museum Miami ("the PAMM"). 

The PAMM opened in 2013 and has quickly become a cultural hot spot. So much so, I included it in the "Culture Vulture" feature of my book, The HUNT Miami (on page 24 to be exact). Yes, it has recently gained more local notoriety for its Insta-worthy backdrops than the substance behind its exhibits. But, while the backdrops—the bay views, the colorful, interactive displays, the lush vegetation—are certainly captivating, so are the works on display.

PAMM is a popular backdrop for #ootd and other Instagram photos.
The breathtaking bay vistas and view of the MacArthur Causeway from the PAMM.
The lush vegetation and beautiful views of Museum Park and the baywalk from the PAMM.

There were two pieces that I particularly enjoyed. The first is a pile of hard candy located in a ground floor gallery on geometry. As part of the exhibit, the artist encourages you to take a piece of candy from the "unlimited" supply and watch the pile change shape over time. My dad and I had a particularly fun time scaring my mom into thinking we were stealing candy without permission under the watchful eye of the gallery attendant. My poor mom almost had a heart attack.

The second is a audio-visual installation on the second floor by Susan Hiller. Lost and Found is an 30-minute audio collage of voices speaking in 23 different languages, including Aramaic, Catalán, Navajo and other extinct or endangered idioms, with English translation provided as subtitles. The voices share anecdotes, songs, memories and conversations revolving around the themes of language and cultural identity. A constantly shifting oscilloscopic line visualizes the sounds on-screen.

I felt intimately connected to human history as I listened to languages that have been or are in danger of being lost to civilization. Watching the shifts in the oscilloscopic line between each language—from slow, long waves to quick, short waves—was also surprisingly captivating. Hiller's work explores a ton of really interesting concepts of humanity, a few which I connected with as someone who is bilingual and is intrigued by psychology. Lost and Found's themes were reminiscent of an article I read on Psychology Today that language and personality are linked and that, in bilinguals, your personality can change depending on what language you speak.

My mom loved the "Las Travesías de XICO en América Latina" exhibit by the Instituto Cultural de México at Museum Park.
Susan Hiller's Lost and Found. Image by Oriol Tarridas.

The big picture? No matter what interests you—art, science, history, architecture, or even cars—our Miami has 25 museums with a lot to offer and there is no better month than May to check it out.  (I personally recommend the Frost Museum of Science, the PAMM, and the Wolfsonian-FIU.) Happy exploring!

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