History

president pearson and other dignataries at the groundbreaking ceremony for the lowe art gallery president pearson and other dignataries at the groundbreaking ceremony for the lowe art gallery
President Pearson and other dignataries at the groundbreaking ceremony for the original museum
image of a model of the original Lowe Art Gallery, black and white photo image of a model of the original Lowe Art Gallery, black and white photo
Historic image of model of the original museum building
black and white photo of original lowe art gallery with figurative statue in the foreground black and white photo of original lowe art gallery with figurative statue in the foreground
Historic image of original museum building
image of the current exterior of the lowe art museum image of the current exterior of the lowe art museum
Current museum building

On February 22, 1950, the University of Miami inaugurated what would later become the Lowe Art Museum in the former’s newly completed Merrick Classroom Building. As the City of Miami’s first professional art exhibition space, the “University of Miami Art Gallery” was founded to serve faculty, students, scholars, researchers, and members of the general public throughout the region.

In 1951, Miami philanthropists Joe and Emily Lowe underwrote the construction of a stand-alone facility on UM’s campus to absorb the Gallery’s rapidly growing collections: The new “Lowe Art Gallery” was formally dedicated on February 4, 1952. Four years later (1956), Alfred I. Barton donated to the Lowe his extensive collection of Native American art, which was accommodated in a 1,300 square-foot purpose-built addition.

In 1961, the Gallery was selected as a repository for 43 works from the Samuel H. Kress Collection of European Renaissance and Baroque art, which was housed in a new wing built specifically for this purpose.

In 1968 the Lowe Art Gallery was renamed the “Lowe Art Museum,” which in 1972 became the first museum in Miami-Dade County to be professionally accredited by the American Alliance of Museums.

In 1985, the Lowe was recognized by the State of Florida as a Major Cultural Institution, the first museum in Miami-Dade County to be thus honored. The Lowe continued to make important art acquisitions (primarily through gift acceptance) in the intervening years, which necessitated a major expansion of its facility in 1991. Miami architect Charles Harrison Pawley was selected for this project, which—when completed in 1996—added 13,000 additional square feet of temporary and permanent exhibition gallery space to the Museum, bringing its total footprint to over 36,000 square feet. This project also addressed the Lowe’s need for new HVAC, security, and fire protection systems.

The Museum’s most recent expansion, the Myrna and Sheldon Palley Pavilion for Contemporary Glass and Studio Arts, opened in 2008 and added another 4,500 square feet of exhibition space. The Lowe’s comprehensive collection now comprises more than 19,250 objects, which collectively represent more than 5,000 years of human creativity on every inhabited continent.