“We had over 3,000 people here on Monday night — I swear to God, I didn’t see a single person touching or harming the art,” said Mera Rubell, addressing the intimate crowd gathered in the courtyard at the Rubell Museum on Wednesday morning for a celebratory brunch. She had digressed from the topic at hand — the expansion of photography museum Fotografiska — to the qualities that sets the Rubell Museum apart from other institutions. “We don’t attack people with ‘if you touch [the art] we’ll kill you.’ I’m not suggesting you touch, but you can sit, you can get close to the art, and we trust people,” she said. “Any serious conventional museum would not be crazy enough to do that. Something happens if you trust people and you believe that they love the art that you’re showing. And if they love the art, they’re going to respect it the way we respect it.”
Fotografiska last week unveiled an ambitious international expansion program, with museums planned for Berlin, Shanghai and Miami, with the latter opening in 2023 adjacent to the Rubell Museum. David Rockwell is reimagining the former warehouse space, located in Miami’s Allapattah neighborhood. (Which Mera Rubell describes as the “last frontier” — “If you have ideas, let’s bring them here,” she said, likely planting the seed of an idea for several in the crowd. The Fotografiska link-up traces back to a drink at Rockwell’s New York penthouse during the Frieze art fair this past May.
Guests included Donald Rubell (donning a bright orange face mask) and artists Shepard Fairey and Kennedy Yanko, who has a new sculpture on view inside the museum.
“Over the last two years, one of the things I think I’ve learned is that there’s no replicating live in-person shared experience. We’re talking about buildings that are in-person destinations,” said Rockwell. “When we didn’t have that live experience, you felt a sense of community being eroded.”