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The Art of Collecting—with Don and Mera Rubell

April 1st, 2020

Today, we’re in Miami, to introduce you to Don and Mera Rubell, art collectors since 1964. We recorded with the Rubells in December 2019. Since then, the coronavirus pandemic has shaken our planet. We recognize the very real sense of before and after as we share these conversations about creativity.

Today’s episode conveys the excitement that surrounded the opening of the Rubell Family’s new museum. From March 17, 2020, the collection has been closed until further notice, as South Florida awaits the all clear to safely resume public life.

The Rubells started collecting when Don was in medical school and Mera was a preschool teacher. The first work they collected was by Ira Kaufman. They paid for it in weekly installments of $25. Collecting art ever since, they’re joined by their son Jason, who became a collector himself as a teenager. They’ve become known for supporting the work of emerging and overlooked artists. Pursuing their passion in person, they visit studios, museums, fairs, galleries and biennials across the globe. Research and relationships are vital to each acquisition. 

In 1993, they opened the Rubell Family Collection in Miami’s Wynwood District. Over the next two decades, the value of real estate in the neighborhood soared. The collection outgrew their 40,000 square foot space, a former Drug Enforcement Administration warehouse they had turned into an art venue. The Rubells started looking for storage nearby. An abandoned food-processing plant by the railroad tracks less than a mile away sparked the idea of creating a museum.

The 100,000 square foot warehouse complex in the Allapattah district became the spacious new home for their collection. Architects transformed the seven buildings into an epic space for more than 7,000 works by over 1,000 artists. 

On the eve of the museum opening, we join a private tour with Mera, Don and Jason…A wall-sized painting by Kehinde Wiley, two of Yayoi Kusama’s infinity rooms, and Keith Haring's Statue of Liberty are just a few of the large-scale works that have room to breathe here.

Sound Editor: Anamnesis Audio

Related Episodes: Paint and Pixels Power the Art of Allison Zuckerman, Art and Our Uncertain Future, The Art of Collecting—with Erika Hoffmann

Related Links: Rubell Museum, Yayoi Kusama, Kehinde Wiley, Keith Haring, Amoako Boafo, Allison Zuckerman, Ira Kaufman

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