When Pérez Art Museum Miami debuted its new waterfront digs in December, the exhibits included works by French-Moroccan videographer Bouchra Khalili, Chinese artist Ai Weiwei and Cuban painter Amelia Peláez. The international opening act perfectly mirrored the vision of director Thom Collins, who took the helm of the former Miami Art Museum three years ago. “We wanted to model a new museum practice that incorporates gender balance, multicultural points of view and ethnic diversity,” says Collins, a Pennsylvania native who came to Florida via New York’s Neuberger Museum of Art. Determined to build on Miami’s growing reputation as a global art mecca, Collins wanted the museum’s revival to reflect the diversity of the local community as well as rethink the relationship of the museum to the social fabric of the city. Says Collins: “We’re hoping locals and tourists will appreciate how the Herzog & de Meuron design (there’s a sheltering wood canopy and hanging vertical gardens that reach up to 51 feet in height) draws culture and nature closer together.”
LX: Earliest art memories:
TC: My father had a graduate degree in history and taught social studies in public schools for 40 years. He believed all aspects of the visual arts and music should be an adjunct to history. So I grew up in a household where we went to museums and experienced art in public settings on a regular basis.
LX: I’m reading:
TC: Rogues’ Gallery: The Secret Story of the Lust, Lies, Greed, and Betrayals That Made the Metropolitan Museum of Art, by Michael Gross.
LX: Go-to restaurant:
TC: I eat out seven days a week and Miami’s Mandolin Aegean Bistro is a real gem.
LX: Favorite clothing brand:
TC: John Varvatos. I’m a middle-aged man who doesn’t want to look like an accountant and John Varvatos makes me look like a rock star.
LX: Greatest indulgence:
TC: Unplanned international travel. I have no family, so I will fly to Rio or Shanghai or Istanbul for three days without a second thought. I always keep three different-sized suitcases packed with incidentals, so all I have to do is throw in the right clothes and I’m off.