Client: Frost Art Museum
Location: Miami, FL, United States
Completion date: 2013
Artwork budget: $125,000
Architecture Is Fun, Inc.
Peter Exley, FAIA
Architecture Is Fun, Inc.
Carol Damian, Director & Chief Curator
Patricia and Phillip Frost Art Museum
Chaitra Garrick Linehan
Dr. Jordana Pomeroy
Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum
Frost Art Museum at FIU
The Frost Art Museum’s gallery is “super chill,” designed to be worthy of a child’s curiosity and the admiration of adults, and to demonstrate that everyone is hard-wired for creativity. It is an environment rich in commissioned art installations and evocative objects that trigger active learning and engagement. The whiteness of the space serves as a blank slate for artistic expression and a variety of media, from new-age technologies, including Smart Table™ and iPads, to traditional art-making, such as super-white Lego™ bricks and drawing. Both orientation and terminus, the discovery gallery is “the place” to frame your Frost museum visit.
As part of the esteemed Frost Art Museum, it was essential that the family gallery welcome all visitors, especially children and families, to a culture-rich world of art ripe for exploration. During the course of planning the exhibits, critical factors for the success of bridging art and technology were assessed alongside the pragmatic complexities of gallery never secured or conditioned for displaying art. In a paradigm-shift, the museum and design team commissioned artist installations that could comfortable and securely reside within the family gallery, integrating “real” art and the voice of artists. The artworks create a responsive environment, where children and adults are inspired to be expressive, to make their own mark on the Frost. Adding this rich layer of beauty, meaning, and experience throughout the gallery makes it a culturally-rich, yet child-friendly complement to the museum.
Sharon and Peter Exley, artists, designers, and art procurers, collaborated closely with the museum director, her education team and curatorial staff. During the envisioning sessions, an oft-heard expression was that the family gallery should reach out – to the Florida International University campus, its students, its alumni, local artists and Miami families. Art was the method and means to achieve that mandate. The first design solution was a change to museum policy, permitting the former unconditioned space to be redesigned for the secure integration of a “study collection”. Once the new policy was in place, the design team built-in opportunities and site-specific ways for artists to “fill” the blank slate that was the newly emptied gallery. In working sessions, the design team, museum director (a renown curator), the special projects director, members of the museum staff, from curatorial to guards suggested recent FIU artist alumni and local artists to be commissioned. The design team then worked with each artist to connect artwork to visitor hands-on experience. Enriched by multiple perspectives throughout the entire design process, the family gallery now creates a unique bridge to art and play; one that re-imagines, reflects and respects the museum’s underlying educational mission.
Art builds authentic experiences for children in which self-awareness and self-expression are nurtured. Within the Frost family gallery, artist Alex Trimino created a chandelier that commingles traditional craft with light-based technologies, Pepe Mar collaged a bold curiosity cabinet, Chaitra Garrick Linehan animated a powerful dog’s tale, Sharon Theiman carefully wrapped Temari Balls, and Haitian artist Edouard Duval-Carrié’s Agowe mixed media, resin and plaster head, Agowe, inspires visitors of all ages. Each commissioned artwork is matched to a corresponding hands-on experience, surrounding families with multiple and diverse opportunities to observe, to study art, to socially engage, and to be expressive.