Located in the historic Wynwood Arts District of Miami, the Margulies Collection is a testament to Miami’s vibrant arts and culture scene. Its place as one of Miami’s oldest and most influential galleries is shared among curators, critics and artists alike in the collection’s nearly 30-year history. Art historians and art lovers will find a simple walkthrough of the Margulies Collection – now home in its 45,000-square foot retrofitted warehouse – to be a distinct journey through Miami’s own history and culture–as well as the vision of renowned collector and real estate developer Martin Margulies.
Margulies’ advocacy for art education has since transformed the Margulies Collection from a simple gallery to a famed resource for the study of visual arts. His legacy has since been realized through the efforts of the Martin Z. Margulies’ Foundation, which funds and operates the collection in addition to onsite workshops and contemporary art classes.
This article will cover the history and influence of the Margulies Collection in the modern Miami Art District:
Background of the Miami Margulies Collection
Once the exclusive collection of real estate developer and renowned curator Martin Margulies, part of the Miami Margulies Collection first went public in 1982 with its debut in the sculpture garden of the private island of Grove Isle. The collection quickly became the centerpiece of a budding cultural scene: Miamians from across the city could travel to experience contemporary art not easily accessible to them outside of the city. But growing tension with the island’s management soon threatened the collection, and Margulies moved the majority of his collection to the Florida International University’s main campus in West Miami-Dade in 1998.
The collection soon demanded a bigger space, and was once again relocated to its now-permanent home in the Wynwood District in 1999. Now exclusively curated by Katherine Hinds, the ever-expanding collection is estimated to be worth $800 million.
What Makes the Margulies Collection Unique
While the Margulies Collection is certainly notable for its extensive history, its emphasis on sculpture and installations continues to distinguish it from its peers. Most of the art featured in the Collection’s exhibits is contemporary, in collaboration with many “blue-chip artists.”
Additionally, the Collection features an impressive photography collection, often showcasing Margulies personal selection of American photography. So vast was Margulies’ original collection of portraits that the eventual decision was made to relocate to its Warehouse in the Wynwood District. As the child of grocers in Harlem, Margulies himself often connects to portraits of that depict the New York he experienced as a child in the 1940s.
Unlike other collections, the Margulies Collection is entirely self-funded by Margulies through his nonprofit, the Martin Z. Margulies Foundation. The Collection’s Warehouse is run as part of the institution, and offers educational programs, exhibitions, and loans to keep its tax-exempt status. Proceeds from the Warehouse ticket sales and tours are donated to The Lotus House, a local homeless shelter for women and children, and women from the Lotus House are often invited to work at guards at the Warehouse.
Notable Works of Art in the Margulies Collection
As one of the longest running Miami art collections, there’s no doubt that the Margulies Collection has featured some incredible works of art. However, there are a few select pieces that manage to draw the majority of the Collection’s crowd year after year, like Olafur Eliasson’s Your Now is My Surroundings–a dreamy installation guides visitors up a small flight of stairs outdoors, only to discover walls lined with mirrors and a skylight exposing them to the elements.
For its 15th anniversary, the Margulies Collection acquired Eric Bainbridge’s Occurrence on an Endless Column, an installation that resembled a towering assemblage of oversized pet toys. Nearly a year later, the collection had reinvented itself on the back of Anselm’s Kiefer’s Die Erdzeitalter (Ages of the World), which depicts a frenzy of of wood, metal and stone stacked high enough to reach the ceiling.
One of the Collection’s more recent acquisitions includes John Chamberlain’s Shortstop, an impassive statue in the style of abstract expressionism.
After 30 years of servicing the Miami art community, the Margulies Collection remains as one of the most impressive additions to the region. More than just a building or a gallery, the Margulies Collection represents nearly three decades of advocacy for art education and in support of Miami’s homeless population as yet another way to bridge the gap between what is and is to be experienced.
Art historians, appreciators, and lovers around the world will find the Margulies Collection to be an exciting journey through the history of American contemporary art and Miami’s flourishing art scene.