By Ruth Shmueli on 12/10/2019
Formerly known as the Rubell Family Collection, the Rubell Museum, was established in 1964 by Mera and Don Rubell in NYC. The collection was later moved to Miami to establish itself as one of the largest privately-owned contemporary art collections. They have works from renowned artists such as Jeff Koons, Keith Haring, Yayoi Kusama, Takashi Murakami and Jean-Michael Basquiat. Additionally, the Rubell Museum is well known for loaning exhibitions to museums around the world. This furthers the reach and contribution that the art can make, as well as educate people globally about contemporary art. Additionally the new location has a garden in the courtyard, a café and a restaurant that will be open to the public in January.
Recently, the Rubell Family Collection changed its name to the Rubell Museum. As stated by Mera and Don Rubell “Our intention was to make it accessible to the public, and we felt the calling it a ‘collection’ really created a barrier that was that was totally misunderstood. I mean, people know what a museum is.” There has always been a longstanding misunderstanding of access to the private collection, now that the name has changed, more people will feel that they are able to go and explore the art. Additionally, the collection has changed its location from Wynwood to a neighborhood in Miami called, Allapattah. The collection is now placed in a modern, 100,000 square foot warehouse designed by a New York based architect, Annabelle Selldorf. This neighborhood is known to be an industrial hotspot, however it is quickly developing with the arrival of the Rubell Museum. Allapattah still has a long way to go, but with recent trends in real estate pricing, it is very likely that there will be continued development into the neighborhood.
When I first arrived, I was shocked by the amount of security and police presence in the area but it instilled a sense of security. Since this was the first time I visiting this neighborhood, I had no idea what to expect. However, I realized that this level of police presences was not the norm and it was mainly due to the festivities of the night. As I entered the premise, I saw that there were events taking place at the same time as Museums’ Grand Opening. In the gardens, Bank of America was having s corporate cocktail party, while one the left side of the Rubell Museum, the Dior Fashion Show was taking place. At the center of it all, the Rubell Museum was having its grand opening. I was shocked by the extravagance and grandeur of the events happening. After further inquiry I found out that both of these events were accomplished in collaboration with the Rubell museum, so although they were separate events, they were all interconnected in a way. My first task during my shift volunteering, was doing security for the Jeff Koons artwork they had on display. I was making sure that no one touched the artwork and occasionally I was taking photographs for people in front of the art. After about an hour, I was given another task, which ended up being the highlight of my night. I was placed inside the Dior Fashion Show side of the property. My job was to escort people from inside the fashion show into the Rubell Museum.
I met many interesting people through this experience. I got to know other volunteers who were art students or professionals in the art world, as well as, museum staff and event security. Each person was friendlier and more welcoming than the next. It was interesting hearing their perspectives on different topics relating got life and art. The environment in this area was extremely different than within the museum. Every person there was dressed more extravagant than the next in anticipation of the show. The energy was charged with excitement as designers waited for Dior’s unveiling, professionals networked, and celebrities caught up with old friends. I was able to observe how other people who lead a drastically different lifestyle, interact with each other and act when they are at an event like this. Additionally, there is a completely different way in which people interact with each other that is not instantly visible if you just walk past them on a street. I saw the Dior models standing in front of the car being treated as if they were just an intimate object that was not human in any way. This is unnerving to see, since they were bossed around and treated by many as just mannequins that did not deserve basic human respect.
This experience made me understand the meaning of the phrase fake it till you make it. Everyone there held themselves with such confidence and poise that even if I was not aware of who they were or their status, I knew that they were important. What if I too, held myself with that level of confidence and poise , would that lead others to believe that I was someone important and significant?
Miami Art Week
The second time I came to the Rubell Museum was when I volunteered during Miami Art Week. This was a completely different experience due to the fact that I was not volunteering for an event at an institution, but rather for the daily operations of the institution. I arrived a bit early, so I was walking around the area taking photographs. I had not previously known that it was not advised to bring a digital camera when in the area, so I ran into a few uncomfortable situations. As I was taking photographs a car stopped by me and started asking me many questions to which I gave very curt responses. When they were done speaking, one man said to the other to park by the curb where I was walking. Alarms went off in my head and as the car moved to park in front of me, I ducked behind a truck and walked towards the entrance of the museum and avoided any possible confrontations. This was a stark contrast with the sense of security I felt the other night. When the museum opened Laura, the staff that coordinated my volunteer shifts, gave a little tour of the museum and I proceed to work my shift. I was tasked that day with greeting guests and keeping count of guests using a tally counter. I had a very enjoyable time doing this job. Since I am a person that likes to be on their feet and talking to people, this job fit perfectly. I met may people that day and had the perfect opportunity to people watch. It was interesting to see the different types of people that came to see the art. I noticed that the contemporary art movement catered to many elderly people and it is not solely appreciated by younger generations.
Overall, I had an amazing experience volunteering at the Rubell Museum, and I would definitely do it again. Additionally, they had amazing pieces of contemporary art by artists whose work I admire. I encourage others to volunteer at art institutions, since it will give them a new perspective of the art world.
For further verification of service hours please contact Laura Randall:
Laura Randall Registrar Rubell Family Collection/ Contemporary Arts Foundation 1100 NW 23rd Street Miami, FL, 33127 (305)573-6090
*Ten service hours were recorded on MyHonors