When the University of Miami's Lowe Art Museum began in 1952, the school could comfortably display its entire collection in three unused classrooms. Those days are long past. Today, the museum stands as Miami's most comprehensive collection of western and non-western art. The permanent collections feature pieces drawn from across human history, with notable works including Claude Monet's Waterloo Bridge and a recently acquired face mask from the Dan people of Côte d'Ivoire and Liberia, forged from wood, cloth, and fur. A sizable trove of Native American artifacts includes pieces from the Southeast such as a beautifully embroidered bead shoulder bag. Other exhibits include paintings, sculpture, drawings, prints, and photographs from the Middle Ages through the present, including the Samuel H. Kress Collection of Renaissance and Baroque art, as well as pottery, sculpture, and metalwork from ancient Greece and the Roman Empire, dating from the first millennium BCE through the 4th century CE.
A few miles away, the tower of the 1939 Old Police and Fire Station rises above the street, gazing down on an unusual blend of sleek, depression-era modernism and Mediterranean revival ornateness. Founded in 2003, the Coral Gables Museum Corp. completely renovated the old municipal building. Spanish touches were added—the new Fewell wing and a 5,000-square-foot plaza—and the space was opened in 2011 as a museum dedicated to the civic arts of architecture, urban design, historic and environmental preservation, and sustainable development. Today, it holds regular art and design exhibitions, educational events, and concerts.
The Gold Coast Railroad Museum began in 1956, when train enthusiast William J. Godfrey chanced upon the miles of abandoned railroad track snaking through the pineland of University of Miami’s southern campus. He imported a newly retired steam engine to the premises, and a tribute to railroading history began.
Now in a new location in Miami proper, the museum continues to honor trains’ role in American history, with nine exhibits on locomotives, passenger cars, and the Richmond’s Naval Air Station’s fleet. Visitors can hop aboard a full-size diesel locomotive passenger coach, or take a ride a miniature children’s railroad that’s ideal for transporting shipments of Lincoln logs. Alternatively, they can run motorized or free-wheeling trains through a model railroad, which zips through mountain tunnels and circles around to-scale landscapes.
Wings Over Miami Air Museum serves as an ongoing tribute to the veterans and aviators who pioneered military and civilian aviation. The museum seeks to educate visitors about the rich history of aviation, the scientific basis of flight, and the many challenges faced during the evolution of flight.
The tower of the 1939 Old Police and Fire Station rises above the street in downtown Coral Gables, gazing down on an unusual blend of sleek, Depression-era modernism and Mediterranean revival ornateness. Founded in 2003, the Coral Gables Museum Corp. completely renovated the old municipal building. Spanish touches were added—the new Fewell wing and a 5,000-square-foot plaza—and the space was opened in 2011 as a museum dedicated to the civic arts of architecture, urban design, historic and environmental preservation, and sustainable development. The museum continues to cultivate partnerships to provide up to five art and design exhibitions at once, concerts, educational events like lectures and tours as well as other special events and publications to help foster an appreciation for the history, vision, and cultural landscape of Coral Gables.
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.
From its humble beginnings in 1949, the Miami Science Museum has expanded into a sprawling facility that includes informative exhibits, the Planetarium, and the Wildlife Center. Many current exhibits teach kids about scientific principles using interactive elements. Visitors literally light up the dance floor at the Energy Tracker exhibit— boogying down helps power neon lights underneath the glass floor. At Moving Things, youngsters can learn about the physics of moving objects by dropping objects of different shapes into flowing water, or they can challenge their spatial reasoning skills by packing blocks into perfect cubes.
The four-story dome at the Planetarium has a daily schedule of stargazing shows. Some of these take audiences on informative expeditions through the solar system and various constellations they might not typically see, such as the elusive Medium Dipper.
The Wildlife Center, meanwhile, is dedicated to the rehabilitation and release of raptors; here, guests can encounter an owl, falcon, and eagle.