‘MAM not PAM’ protest against museum name change

By | December 5th, 2011 | 14 Comments
MAM, not PAM

The Miami Art Museum's imminent name change, to the Jorge M. Pérez Art Museum of Miami-Dade County (PAM, for short), has a lot of people pissed off. -- image posted to the 'MAM not PAM' Facebook page by Mixolidia Gautreaux

MAM is getting a facelift and a name change. How Miami.

You may not have heard above the Art Basel din about developer Jorge Pérez’s controversial donation of $15 million in cash and another $15 million in art to the Miami Art Museum. Why controversial? Well, to reward Pérez’s munificence, the museum is changing its name from the Miami Art Museum — a snappy MAM, for short — to the Jorge M. Pérez Art Museum of Miami-Dade County (JMPAMoMDC? PAM?).

Some may consider that a fair trade. MAM, after all, is in much need of funding to build its stunning $220 million, bayside, Herzog & de Meuron-designed building (slated for dedication in 2013), and Pérez had already donated $5 million to the effort.

Others, including Miami Herald columnist Fabiola Santiago, are outraged at the name change. Here’s an excerpt from “What’s in a museum’s name? Everything”, published Friday:

What’s in a name? Everything: identity, ownership, pedigree, brand. And that’s why the Miami Art Museum’s name change to the Jorge M. Pérez Art Museum of Miami-Dade County is causing such consternation in the visual arts community. In most respected art regions, the major museum’s name honors the city and the arts, not individual donors, no matter how much they give to advance the museum’s development.

But now, it looks like MAM is no more in a city that aspires to grow its reputation worldwide as a cultural destination. All of a sudden, it’s the Pérez Art Museum, for short.

As Santiago mentions, the Miami art community is pissed off. Manuel González, a patron and MAM donator, called the name change “embarrassing”. Mary Frank, a recently resigned MAM trustee, called it “a sad day for Miami.” In a full-page ad in the Herald, Frank urged Miami residents, who ponied up $100 million in taxes to fund MAM’s new building, to demand that the MAM Board of Trustees “reconsider their ill-conceived plan”.

“The name of the museum belongs to the people of Miami and should not be sold at any price to any individual,” Frank wrote in the ad.

In that spirit, there is now a “MAM not PAM” Facebook page. Though it only has 100+ Likes at the moment, the page is packed with indignation. A tasting:

“Jorge Pérez, show some class and don’t put your name on our museum!” — Mari Upthegrove

“This Name Change is truly an OUTRAGE, and a huge slap in the face not only to city tax payers, but to the entire Miami Art Community and our beloved city. Make a stand people, lets NOT allow this to happen! Miami Art Museum Forever! Fuck Jorge Pérez and his sheisty philanthropy!” — Nina Arias

“The people of Miami are the primary benefactors of the Miami Art Museum. The name of museum should reflect that.” — Brian Gaither

With other local museums named after non-Latino benefactors (Bass, Wolfsonian, Frost), some people think the outrage has more to do than with Pérez’s name than the museum’s. Here’s an excerpt from John De Leon’s posting on the “MAM not PAM” page:

“While the idea that everything is for sale distresses me as a social phenomenon, more upsetting is the idea that a group is formed to oppose our museum being named after a ‘Jorge M. Pérez’. I guess it is too much for Mr. Frank to have not one, but two, Latino names ‘Jorge’ and ‘Pérez’ on a cultural institution’s facade in Miami.”

Whatever the cause of the consternation, it may be moot. MAM’s board approved the name change by a 30-4 vote, according to museum director Thomas Collins, who told the Herald the name change would have “absolutely no impact” on MAM’s mission and service to the community.

Perhaps not, but it may have an impact on attendance. Another posting on the “MAM not PAM” page: “I will not step foot into the museum if Jorge Pérez has his name on it.”

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14 Comments on “‘MAM not PAM’ protest against museum name change”

  1. 1 Rick said at 7:08 pm on December 5th, 2011:

    While I, too, thinks it really sucks that some rich developer is apparently going to get his name plastered on the front of MAM, how does this really differ from the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County which, as most remember, was going to be named after Carnival Cruise Lines at one time.


  2. 2 Jordan Melnick said at 8:43 pm on December 5th, 2011:

    I suppose it doesn’t, unless the terms were different in the Carnival example. A $15 million donation (spread out over years) doesn’t seem like much to get an institution (not just the building) named after you, especially when, to Perez, that’s a drop in the bucket.

  3. 3 swampthing said at 10:20 pm on December 5th, 2011:

    for a billion bucks,
    we’ll change our name to swampschmucks

  4. 4 Jordan Melnick said at 10:30 pm on December 5th, 2011:

    I got five on it.

  5. 5 Scott said at 11:07 pm on December 5th, 2011:

    I’m more a fan of the arts than I am of sports but remember a long time ago when stadiums and arenas were named after their city or something local? That was depressing to watch happen across the country. Somewhere along the way, capitalism kicked into that corner of the market and voila. It’s America: everything’s for sale. It’s not surprising, but it is kind of sad.

  6. 6 Jordan Melnick said at 11:14 pm on December 5th, 2011:

    The Bacardi Art Museum would have a way cooler nickname. A world-class pop art collection belongs in the BAM!

  7. 7 steven s said at 12:11 am on December 6th, 2011:

    Finally puts Miami in the tier of NYC (Guggenheim, Whitney), and London (Tate).

  8. 8 Alex said at 9:21 am on December 6th, 2011:

    I think there’s a lot of truth to John deLeon’s suspicions about the blue bloods true motivations. Why wasn’t Frank complaining about Arsht (which was $30 mil, if we are counting, much less proportionally to the cost of the building and operation)? There are a lot of museums named after donors all over the country. One suspects that if it was Braman, she would not have uttered a peep. $25 million is nothing to sneeze at, even if $10 mil is in art from a world-class collection. Much ado about nothing.

  9. 9 Jordan Melnick said at 10:02 am on December 6th, 2011:

    It’s not just that Pérez bought the name. It’s that the board brushed aside the larger taxpayer donation, $100 million. “Miami Art Museum” acknowledges the people of Miami. The new name acknowledges Pérez.

  10. 10 mixolidia said at 1:40 pm on December 6th, 2011:

    The point here is in early 2000 lots of people volunteered, worked hard to get the $100MM bond put on the ballot & then passed so that MAM could have a new building & sculpture park slated for 2012. (Which had to be pushed back to 2013 b/c the trustees couldn’t get their act together. Part of being a trustee is raising money & awareness for a cause you believe in. It’s why they’re suppose to be doing it. Not getting bldgs. named after themselves.) I think $100MM is a lot more than $20MM in cash over 10 plus years (he still has to pay off the initial $5MM) & $15MM in art.

    Miami residents worked hard to get this new building. This has nothing to do with his heritage. The museum should be named after Miami. We are the people paying for it. Miami is the largest donor to the new museum bldg. Changing the museum’s name should have never been on the table. There would not be a new building in the first place to name PAM if it were not for the $100MM bond.

    This article fails to mention that most museums that are named after donors were started by those donors. Donors who not only handed over their whole collections but dedicated time and money to get these museums started and established. They didn’t just swoop in at the last minute with a couple of shillings. Also, most museums named after donors in major cities are periphery museums, not the main city art museum.

  11. 11 yvette said at 2:41 pm on December 6th, 2011:

    horse shit

  12. 12 Teresita Castellanos said at 9:18 am on December 7th, 2011:

    Well … has anyone heard of the GUGGENHEIM?? The Adrienne Arsht … why not the Jorge Perez Art Museum??? Does is ”sound” bad????? wow

  13. 13 Mixolidia said at 6:32 pm on December 7th, 2011:

    The Guggenheims started those museums with their own money & private collections. Just because other Miami institutions sell themselves off cheap doesn’t mean the Miami Art Museum should.

    Also, if you were around while the Performing Arts Center then the Carnival Center then the Arsht Center was being built. You will remember it was a bit of a running sad joke. They basically went bankrupt during construction. PAC was running the risk of becoming the biggest crack house on Biscayne. Construction was due to stop then Carnival came in with I think $20MM & saved it. The Adrienne Arsht came up with $30MM. I don’t think the Arsht Center is not a good comparison.

    Anyway, Miami residents voted for the Miami Art Museum to receive $100MM for the new bldg. I think that’s more than $20MM in cash & $15MM in art. O and we gave MAM one of the best views of the bay too, prime, priceless real estate on Bayfront Park. And part of that deal was that Miami would be in the name of the museum. Who knew Jorge M. Perez would find a loop hole for that deal too.

  14. 14 mixolidia said at 4:25 pm on December 9th, 2011:

    I forgot to say thanks for using my collage. I’m flattered. I was surprised to see it the first time I read your posting. Thanks.

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