The Art of Navigating
Art Basel Miami Beach
Dec. 7-10, 2017

By Jen Karetnik & Shayne Benowitz
Oct 11, 2017
Circles by Frank Hyder at Aqua Art Miami, Projects Gallery
Circles by Frank Hyder at Aqua Art Miami, Projects Gallery

From the main event to satellite fairs and local museums, here’s your guide to Art Basel Miami Beach.

Art Basel Miami Beach is North America’s most comprehensive international contemporary art fair, with over 260 galleries from 30 countries showcasing works by more than 4,000 artists. Held at the Miami Beach Convention Center, Art Basel Miami Beach draws more than 77,000 art dealers, artists, collectors and aficionados to Miami during the fair held this year from December 7-10, 2017. It’s also spawned more than 20 satellite fairs, as well as parties and events galore.

Art Basel refers to the singular fair held at the Miami Beach Convention Center, but the spirit of Art Basel lives in venues big and small throughout the city hosting satellite fairs, glittering parties and events in a week that’s become known as Miami Art Week. The Convention Center space is only the beginning of the whirlwind week of art and parties that’s perfectly suited for Miami.

For a full list of satellite fairs and events, check out The Ultimate Guide to Miami Art Week During Art Basel.

The History of Art Basel

A sister fair of the original, founded in Basel, Switzerland in 1970, the Miami Beach edition has been an annual fixture in early December since 2002. The brainchild of a trio of Swiss gallerists, Ernst Beyeler, Trudi Bruckner and Balz Hilt, their vision brought together the artists they represented, as well as collectors, curators and critics from all over the globe for the first Art Basel in Switzerland. Their vision was a success and over 16,000 people attended the first fair.

Miami was selected as an ideal second destination with its unique position at the nexus of North America and South America. Over the years, with the boon from Art Basel, Miami has become a thriving year round arts destination in its own right with a vibrant gallery scene, as well as world-class street art, in Wynwood and Little Haiti.

A third edition of Art Basel launched in Hong Kong in 2012. The city sits symbolically at the crossroads of Eastern and Western culture. Art Basel Cities is a new initiative launching in September 2018 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, which will bring the art fair to a new international city annually.

About Art Basel

At Art Basel Miami Beach, the 500,000 square-feet of exhibition space at the Miami Beach Convention Center is divided into nine sectors: Galleries, Nova, Positions, Edition, Kabinett, Survey, Public, Film and Magazines. Galleries serves as the centerpiece of the show where individual international galleries showcase the work of the artists they represent.

The sectors divide the fair into separate curatorial spaces. Nova exhibits new, cutting edge works. Kabinett focuses on a body of work by a single artist or a themed group exhibition. Survey, introduced in 2014, is the newest sector and it’s dedicated to art historical projects ranging from solo shows to thematic exhibitions with select galleries.

The Public sector is sited at Collins Park in collaboration with The Bass and features thought-provoking sculptures and site-specific installations free and open to the public. The Film sector showcases work at the New World Center’s Soundscape Park projected onto the building’s 7,000 square-foot wall designed by architect Frank Gehry.

Miami Art Week Highlights

Miami’s premier art museums showcase their most impressive exhibits of the year during Miami Art Week. A visit to Pérez Art Museum Miami overlooking Biscayne Bay inside its landmark building designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architects Herzog and de Meuron is a must. They’ll be debuting a brand new waterside café designed by Berenblum Busch Architects (BBA) and manufactured by Amsterdam-based MX3D using innovative 3D printing technology. Dara Friedman: Perfect Stranger and Steve McQueen: End Credits will open in time for Art Basel, as well as an exhibition of typewriter art from the PAMM collection.

Additionally, check out The Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami, Wolfsonian-FIU, The Patricia and Phillip Frost Art Museum at FIU, The Bass, Lowe Art Museum, MDC Museum of Art + Design, Jewish Museum of Florida and Vizcaya Museum & Gardens, Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden for special exhibits during the month of December.

Design Miami/ celebrates the world’s leading galleries specializing in collectible 20th and 21st century design. As the official sister fair to Art Basel Miami Beach, the Design Miami/ tent is adjacent to the Convention Center.

Miami is also home to some of the world’s most impressive private art collections. Stop by the Margulies Collection at the Warehouse, De la Cruz Collection and Rubell Family Collection when they open their doors to the public during Miami Art Week.

Satellite Art Fairs

In addition to Art Basel Miami Beach at the Miami Beach Convention Center, there are a number of must-see satellite fairs. Scope and Art Miami actually predate Art Basel Miami Beach and they feature an impressive array of galleries with modern works. For cutting edge contemporary works, check out Pulse Miami, NADA and Art Untitled.

For a new and unique all-women event, you will want to visit Fair at Brickell City Centre in Miami. Fair is a unique, curated experience where nothing is for sale, admission is free and the goal is to "address gender inequality in the art world and beyond, highlight activism in contemporary creative practices and inspire and empower women". You also won't want to miss Art Gaysel 3 Ménàge a Trois being held from December 6-10th at Hôtel Gaythering in South Beach. Look for a variety of art mediums from a multitude of diverse and creative artists from around the globe. Other fairs include Aqua, Red Dot Art Fair and Prizm Fair.

In addition to Art Basel’s Public Sector, the entire city turns into a canvas for ephemeral installations and art happenings. Neighborhood hubs for these works include South Beach, Midtown and Wynwood. It’s also a major bacchanal with VIP parties, dinners and events thrown every night.

Free Art Week Shuttle Service

In an effort to make the numerous art fairs in Miami Beach and Miami more easily accessible, the two cities have joined efforts to operate a free shuttle service that connects to the existing free transportation services and art shows in each city. There are many transportation options during your visit.

For a full list of all Art Basel events, visit

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