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Discover The Wolfsonian

An Inside Look to Find Out What This Miami Beach Museum Has to Offer

Those looking to find wolves at The Wolfsonian – Florida International University, unfortunately, will be disappointed. But this Miami Beach museum, library and research center has an endless array of collections for visitors to explore. Heather Cook, Head of Education of Visitor Experience at The Wolfsonian, gives an inside look at what makes this museum unique and a must-visit for tourists and locals alike. 

The Wolfsonian

What type of museum is The Wolfsonian?

It’s a really unique institution, in a couple of ways. Our collection of objects is incredibly broad. In certain aspects in the way we collect. “Material culture” is the blanket term that has art, paintings and sculptures. It also includes, industrial design, decorative arts, works on paper. We also have more everyday objects… things like furniture, appliances, and posters. Basically anything that man or woman make.

What sets this museum apart from others?

Our collection period is 1850s-1950s which makes us really special.  We collect all types of material within a specific time frame. The reason we do that is because our collection tells the story of the modern era. The time spanning the Industrial Revolution to World War II is one of utter change. This period is when the world became modern, and that’s what we study here. Over that one hundred-year period, you can name so many totally life-changing inventions, political movements, war… so much was going on. We are able to focus on a limited time frame and still have an endless material to talk about and look at.

What kind of visitors make up the Wolfsonian’s target audience?

Part of my job is to make our collection is interesting and approachable to a wide audience. Scholars love us and researchers come from all over the world to study in the library. People who are interested in American studies find their way here, too. That’s one group.

We’re also really popular with designers because we showcase things other art museums might not, like silverware, furniture, and amazing objects like pictures or posters that have incredible design. 

Interior Wolfsonian

We have adult programs and family days every month. The design and themes of our collections are broken down, so it is totally for everyone. [The museum] really does appeal to all different kinds of people because don’t have to know anything about art, to come and look at toasters from the 1950’s.

What is the most popular exhibition?

The 5th floor hosts an exhibition called Art and Design in the Modern Age. Those selections, our “highlights,” are pulled from permanent exhibits and can be viewed anytime. Sometimes we have rotating exhibitions put together by our curators using our own collections of 180,000 objects, and we often have traveling exhibitions from other museums. Right now we have Promising Paradise, a show highlighting Cuban-American relations and tourism from 1920s-1950s. It’s been super popular, as you can imagine. Different shows appeal to different people but the highlights collection features our greatest hits.

When is the best time to visit?

Friday night. We are open late and admission is free from 6:00-9:00 p.m. There’s a free staff-guided tour at 6:00 p.m. and we have great happy hour specials in the café. (Beer, wine and mixed drinks are all half off!) Programs and events are going on all the time, so it’s a good idea to check the website. We have sketching in the gallery on the last Friday of every month and family day usually the first Saturday of every month. Both events are completely free. 


-By Ettractions Digital Content Editor, PAULA MARINO

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