Contrary to the belief that Jewish immigrants began populating Florida in the aftermath of World War II, the very first Jewish settlers in the state arrived a bit earlier—almost 200 years earlier, in fact. Spanish-controlled Florida banned all non-Catholic religions, but England's 1763 purchase of the land was followed shortly by the arrival of Alexander Solomons, Joseph de Palacios, and Samuel Israel—and a new heritage was born. Today, the Jewish Museum of Florida – FIU celebrates this rich legacy and its impact within the larger Jewish community with a core exhibit brimming with more than 500 artifacts that span over 250 years.
In "Mosaic: Jewish Life in Florida," visitors will find relics such as a pocket watch owned by the first known Jewish boy born in Florida, a Purim party dress made for the Jacksonville YMHA in 1918 out of Floridian seashells, and the ketubah from the marriage of Margaret Fishler and Joel Fleet in 1940. Family photographs, immigration papers, and travel documents record the rich tradition of immigration, and images from wars dating back to 1815 evince the ongoing role Jewish residents have played in American history. In the building's community section, guests learn about more than 250 mayors, legislators, judges, and activists, including David Levy Yulee, the first Jew elected to Congress and the man who ushered Florida into statehood. Elsewhere in the museum, temporary exhibits might spotlight contemporary Jewish artists, Jewish rituals, or profile a prominent family. The museum is housed within two refurbished synagogues connected by the glass-roofed Bessie's Bistro, which serves snacks in the cheerful spirit of its namesake, Miss America 1945, Bess Myerson.
Cafe Bambini combines stimulating play centers for children with a relaxing café for caretakers. Children frolic with no time limit in any of five areas designed to foster group play and creativity. Centers devoted to science and discovery, dramatic play, and areas with building materials and blocks all invite children to explore the backcountry of their imaginations. The Active Corner inspires climbing and extreme high-fiving, and the Dress Up & Princess Corner encourages make-believe with a variety of costumes.
The age-appropriate classes at My Gym Children's Fitness Center helps children develop physically, cognitively, emotionally, and socially inside air-conditioned, state-of-the-art facilities. With more than 25 years of experience, My Gym offers structured courses designed to please 6-week-olds bored of dominating family ping-pong tournaments and 13-year-olds in need of some lessons in kinetiquette. Instructors individually coach children and parents through classes that incorporate music, dance, relays, sports, games, special rides, and more.
HistoryMiami celebrates Miami's unique legacy with rotating exhibits tracing the area’s history from prehistoric times to the modern day. On the first Wednesday of every month, HistoryMiami throws down an open smorgasbord of live jams, fine wine, and tempting tidbits to flutter the wings of local social butterflies. July's Wine Down Wednesday celebrates the new Aviation in Miami exhibit with a special performance by the Oscar Fuentes Combo, whose poetic, Latin-fused rhythms evoke the history of Florida's skies, from Howard Gill's cardinal flight a century ago to today's majestic herds of domesticated clouds. Imbibe from the open wine and food bar while enjoying access to the museum galleries, outdoor courtyard, and spectral Crockett and Tubbs. Free parking is available at Cultural Parking Garage at 50 Northwest Second Avenue.
The Miami Art Museum houses an ever-growing collection of more than 600 works of art, with pieces by such art-world luminaries as Chuck Close, Joseph Cornell, and Robert Rauschenberg. Spend days getting physically lost and emotionally found in abstract landscapes of paint and perspective with a one-year membership, which includes unlimited free admission for 12 months. The one-year membership also includes invitations to exclusive members-only events and preview parties at the Miami Art Museum, giving you the chance to break out that Members Only jacket without, for once, a bit of irony. The membership also comes with a complimentary subscription to MAM Portrait, the museum's official magazine, as well as a 10% discount off all items at the MAM Store. In addition to minor benefits such as aesthetic salvation and cultural cloud-nine–ness, membership to the museum includes these privileges and perks: