20 Years Of Miami Art Week

For the last 20 years, across a single week from the end of November, Miami has become a flashpoint for the global art world to gather.

This international art fair attracts tens of thousands of visitors, including many art collectors, to see a huge range of artworks spanning artists of different mediums, nationalities, ages and career levels.

With a base at Miami Beach Convention Center, the show spreads out all over the city, with activities and events reaching into almost every neighborhood, representing every part of the world, and using every imaginable medium.

2022 saw more than 20 international art fairs across more than 1,200 galleries between November 29 and December 4.

But what exactly is the history of Miami Art Week? And what can first-time visitors expect?

Miami Art Week’s beginnings are far from the coastal sunshine of Florida, in the very different landscape of Basel in Switzerland. This historic city on the bank of the Rhine river, where the native language is German, is the origin of the Miami Art Week we now know.

Art Basel is an international art fair which began in 1970 as a joint venture between three gallerists.

Its first event attracted more than 10,000 art enthusiasts and it ran equally successfully in the intervening years, before expanding to Miami with a new event in 2002.

A large part of this decision was based on the number of art collectors who were traveling from Miami to attend the event in Basel. Among them were Dennis Scholl, who approached Art Basel director Sam Keller with the idea to bring the event to Miami.

As part of the process of convincing Sam Keller to make Miami a second base for the event, private collectors threw open their collections – and in many cases their homes – so that VIPs from Art Basel could see just how devoted Miami-based collectors were to contemporary art.

The launch of the show was initially planned for 2001, but was delayed due to the chaos caused by the 9/11 terrorist attack in New York.

Likewise the 2020 in-person event was canceled due to COVID restrictions, but by this time it was possible to hold a virtual version of Miami Art Week, which was created as a replacement.

In 2022, for the 20th anniversary (and 18th edition) of the event, the crowd was back to its usual level both in numbers and enthusiasm.