Explore Arts and Culture in South Florida

Vizcaya Museum & Gardens
Vizcaya Museum & Gardens

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You can’t spend every hour at the beach or the pool. Take a look at these ideas for alternatives to the Florida sun. There are plenty of museums, galleries, and theatres around south Florida.


HistoryMiami Museum

HistoryMiami Museum, a Smithsonian Affiliate located in downtown Miami, safeguards, and shares Miami’s history. It began in 1940 as the Historical Association of Southern Florida. The museum opened in 1962.

Today, the collections include more than 37,000 artifacts that cover 10,000 years of South Florida history. There are items from prehistoric archaeological digs through the 20th century Afro-Cuban folk art.

The Museum’s Archives and Research Center collection includes more than a million historical photographs. In the Folklife Gallery, you will learn about the cultural diversity and the traditions of South Florida that connect the present to the past and give the region its unique character. The Folklife Gallery also serves as a space for performances, demonstrations, and other cultural programs.

“History & Ourselves” is an interactive exhibit that showcases historic moments in local history. Highlights include a Cuban refugee raft, and a Seminole dugout canoe. All of this, and much more, awaits you at HistoryMiami!

Vizcaya Museum & Gardens, Miami

Vizcaya was the home of industrialist James Deering. It was designed in 1914 as a modern version of an 18th century Italian villa.

The house and grounds are filled with collections that date as far back as ancient Pompeii. Vizcaya is a unique oasis in the middle of a vibrant city.

The Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science, Miami

The Frost Museum of Science shares the power of science and ignites wonder. It’s located in Downtown Miami’s waterfront Museum Park. Discover the origins of the solar system in the planetarium. Learn about the science of living systems, including the human body and mind.

Explore the world of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) through interactive exhibitions and unique shows. A great place to spend a day!

Wings Over Miami Air Museum, Miami

Wings Over Miami took flight in 2001. This active flying museum features vintage aircraft, jets, and military trainers.  Almost all of the aircraft in the collection are still flyable; some are flown regularly.

You’ll find the Museum in one of the hangars at Miami Executive Airport.

Gold Coast Railroad Museum, Miami

The Gold Coast Railroad Museum (GCRM) was founded in 1957 to share the rich history of the railroad.

The Museum preserves and exhibits historic railroad equipment. There are currently 40 historic rail cars in the collection, including the Presidential Rail Car named Ferdinand Magellan. The museum also has a model railroad room. Young visitors will enjoy the Thomas the Train play tables. Train rides are available on weekends.

Holocaust Memorial, Miami Beach

The Miami Beach Holocaust Memorial tells the history of Holocaust survivors who came to Florida. Architect Kenneth Treister designed the memorial.

Giant blocks of pink-hued Jerusalem stone were brought in to serve as the foundation for the memorial. After four years of construction, the memorial was dedicated on February 4, 1990. It’s a powerful experience that is worth the time to visit.

History Fort Lauderdale, Fort Lauderdale

The History Fort Lauderdale, formerly Fort Lauderdale Historical Society, has shared stories of Fort Lauderdale’s diverse community for over six decades.

There is plenty to explore at History Fort Lauderdale. Walk through their history museum, old school house and the Hoch Heritage Center.

The Museum’s primary focus is education. They offer public lectures and workshops, group tours, support scholarly research and publish teacher resource materials.

Stonewall National Museum and Archives, Fort Lauderdale

The Stonewall National Museum and Archives (SNMA) is one of the largest gay archives and libraries in the United States. It was founded in 1972, almost 50 years ago.

As you might think, there is no direct link to the Stonewall Riots in New York in 1969. The founder, Mark Silber, used “Stonewall” to remember the fight for LGBTQ liberation that began at the Stonewall Inn in 1969.

SNMA presents a 12-month schedule of exhibitions on LGBTQ themes and public programs. This includes author presentations, films, panel discussions, and collaborative events.

Historic Stranahan House Museum, Fort Lauderdale

The Historic Stranahan House Museum is Fort Lauderdale’s oldest and most historically significant surviving structure. This place holds the story of a family, a house, and when Fort Lauderdale first began.

The Stranahan House was built in 1901 by Frank Stranahan, credited as Ft. Lauderdale’s founding father and his wife Ivy Cromartie Stranahan. It is also Broward County’s oldest surviving structure (built in 1840).

This house has served as an important trading post and post office for over 100 years! It’s been a community gathering spot for many people.

Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens, Delray Beach

Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens celebrates a more than century-old connection between Japan and South Florida.

In 1970, founder George Sukeji Morikami donated his land with a wish of preserving the memory of one of Japan’s early colony settlements. The Museum is a living monument created to build a bridge of cultural understandings between Morikami’s two homelands.

The Morikami Collections house an extensive collection of Japanese art objects and artifacts, which includes items related to tea ceremony.

Art Museums and Galleries

The Lowe Art Museum, Miami

The Lowe Art Museum had humble beginnings in a classroom on the campus of the University of Miami. Today, the comprehensive collection encompasses almost 20,000 objects representing more than 5,000 years of human creativity in every continent throughout the world.

Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum, Miami

The Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum is one of the largest academic art museums in South Florida.

The permanent collection includes over 6,000 objects, with emphasis on American printmaking from the 1960s and ’70s. It also features photography, works by Latin American and Caribbean artists, and pre-Columbian pieces dating from 200-500 AD.

Pérez Art Museum Miami

Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) is a modern and contemporary art museum exhibiting international art of the 20th and 21st centuries. The Museum’s collection includes nearly 3,000 works of art on view in eight galleries and aims to express Miami’s rich cultural diversity.

The Museum hosts traveling exhibits, special events, and educational programs.

The Bass, Miami Beach

The Bass Museum of Art, Miami Beach’s contemporary art museum, opened in 1964 through the donation of a private collection by John and Johanna Bass to the City of Miami Beach. In 2001, the original museum building was renovated, and a new wing was added, increasing the exhibition space to 16,000 square feet. This created space for temporary exhibits and continued growth.

In 2009, the museum re-focused its mission and programming to demonstrate that Miami Beach had developed as an art destination, and to emphasize the evolving and diverse nature of Miami Beach. In 2017, the Museum went through another renovation to expand the internal structure, which created almost a 50% increase in space, including four new galleries, a museum store, and a cafe. It also included a new wing to serve as a designated educational space, the Creativity Center.

NSU Art Museum, Fort Lauderdale

NSU Art Museum is home to an impressive collection of over 6,000 pieces from around the world. This cultural hub features a range of exhibitions and activities across several floors. There’s also a sculpture terrace for enjoying beautiful art.

Its distinctive 83,00 square foot modernist building opened in 1986 and was designed by the renowned architect Edward Larrabee Barnes. The building contains 25,000 square feet of exhibition space, a 256-seat auditorium, Museum Store and Cafe.

Performing Arts

Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, Miami

Set in the heart of downtown Miami, the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County is one of the world’s leading performing arts organizations and venues. Since its opening in 2006, it has become a leader in presenting innovative programming that mirrors South Florida’s diversity. It has also served as a catalyst for billions of dollars in new development in the downtown area.

The Center presents almost 400 events each year, using its flexible, state-of-the-art performance spaces. Its programs include the largest jazz series in South Florida, an annual Flamenco Festival, concerts by renowned performers, as well as local artists, theatrical productions, and free programming for the community. The Center has a robust arts education program that serves nearly 60,000 children each year.

Broward Center for the Performing Arts, Fort Lauderdale

The Broward Center presents more than 700 performances each year – Broadway musicals, operas, ballets, concerts, plays, multi-cultural performances, lectures, workshops and educational events – to more than 700,000 patrons. The Florida Grand Opera, Gold Coast Jazz Society, Symphony of the Americas, and the Miami City Ballet all hold series of performances at the Broward Center each year.

It also has one of the largest arts-in-education programs in the United States, serving more than 150,000 students annually. The Broward Center opened in 1991 and, through a unique public/private partnership, quickly became the anchor of a vibrant, new cultural district in downtown Fort Lauderdale.

Miramar Cultural Center/ArtsPark, Miramar

The Miramar Cultural Center/ArtsPark was designed to celebrate creativity and diversity in South Florida. It’s a vibrant, urban destination located in the heart of the Miramar Town Center, adjacent to City Hall. The Miramar Department of Cultural Affairs has primary oversight responsibility for the Center’s programming and facilities.

The Center includes the Ansin Family Art Gallery, a botanical garden, a full-service kitchen and banquet facilities, an 800-seat theater, a dance studio and more. Their programs have included bands, comedians, ballet, the Palm Beach Symphony, Africa Umoja (South African songs and dances), Dance theatre of Harlem, Puerto Rico’s ballet company and the South Florida Dominican Jazz Festival.

Aventura Arts & Cultural Center, Aventura

The Aventura Arts & Cultural Center (AACC) is a 14,864-square-foot performing arts facility located in the waterfront area of Aventura. Its mission is to provide a variety of performing arts and relevant cultural programming for audiences of all ages.

The beautiful building includes a 330-seat auditorium, as well as backstage support and dressing rooms; a beautiful waterfront view from the lobby, which also includes a unique terrazzo floor conceived by a local artist; and chandeliers of different sizes that cascade down the main lobby entrance, symbolically celebrating the Center’s location on the bay.

Outside, an outdoor plaza connects with Shorewalk using brick pavers, a Walk of Arts honoring donors to the Center. Programs include concerts by American and International performers, classical music, plays and musicals by touring companies, family and educational programs, dance, ballet and more.

While you are learning a bit of history or enjoying a performance, check out a few of the other exciting destinations in South Florida.

**Disclaimer: There is a good chance that this post contains affiliate or sponsor links. If you make a purchase through them, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you (for which we are extremely grateful).

Also, while we do our best to highlight LGBTQ-friendly destinations and businesses, info provided is based solely on personal experience and recommendations by community partners. We hope that nobody experiences discrimination or homophobia while visiting Florida and beyond, but we make no guarantees. Please inform us if you experience discrimination or homophobia while visiting any destination so we can make updates to our recommendations.

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may, 2024

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