United States

The 20 best exhibitions to discover in Florida this winter

by Paul Joseph  |  Published November 16, 2020

With its hundreds of miles of sun-kissed beaches and other outdoor attractions, Florida is one of the world’s most popular destinations for both US natives and visitors from further afield. But beyond the state’s natural treasures, Florida is also home to a huge number of museums, galleries and other distinguished cultural venues that invite you to explore everything from US military history to regional marine life to classic and contemporary art.

An exterior shot of the Lightner Museum in the city of St. Augustine on Florida’s northeast coast (Photo: C Watts via Flickr / CC BY 2.0)

While the winter months can often remain on the warm side in Florida, it is nevertheless that bit more tempting to venture indoors during this period. Happily, there are an eclectic choice of exhibitions to tempt you undercover throughout winter, and we’ve picked out 20 of the best scheduled to take place below.

Better Nights

Domestic life in the 1970s was very different from how it is now, from the absence of tablets and smartphones to the way that home interiors were decorated and designed. Hosted at The Bass, Miami Beach’s contemporary art museum, Mickalene Thomas’ Better Nights features a conceptually reconstructed apartment installation created to encapsulate the domestic aesthetic of the era. Faux wood paneling, wallpaper and custom furniture reupholstered with the artist’s signature textiles will all resonate with visitors who can recall the visual domestic hallmarks of the ‘70s.

LOCATION The Bass, Miami Beach DATES Through 31 January 2021

Ringling Museum

(Photo: Image courtesy The Bass, photography by Zachary Balber)

A Safari for the Soul

Luxury African lifestyle brand Ardmore are renowned for their ability to transform African art into global design. Hosted by WMODA, a non-profit museum founded with the mission of inspiring appreciation and understanding of ceramics and glass as art forms, this selling exhibition features several one-of-a-kind ceramic artworks, each exploring the wild and wonderful world of Ardmore Ceramic Art and demonstrating how the spirit and rhythms of Africa can be channelled into an awe-inspiring safari experience. Image yourself as an intrepid explorer riding a magnificent animal through the lush jungles and grassy savannahs of South Africa to visit the Ardmore community of ceramic artists.

LOCATION Wiener Museum of Decorative Arts, Dania Beach DATES Through 16 December 2020

Port Wiener Museum of Decorative Arts

(Photo: Wiener Museum of Decorative Arts)

Illuminate: Lightner Museum’s Stained Glass Rediscovered

In the closing decades of the 19th century the stained-glass industry in America flourished. With access to new materials and modern manufacturing methods, American artisans revolutionized glass-making techniques first developed in Medieval Europe. Vibrantly coloured and richly textured, the resulting windows were commissioned for both religious and secular settings. Illuminate is a new, ongoing exhibition of 12 masterfully restored stained-glass windows from the Lightner Museum’s permanent collection.

LOCATION Lightner Museum, St. Augustine DATES Ongoing

Lightner Museum

(Photo: Lightner Museum)

Spectral Vizcaya: An Evening of Illumination

The picturesque environs of the Vizcaya Museum and Garden will be the scene of a magical night of festivities this December. Called Spectral Vizcaya, the event sees the museum’s exterior spaces give way to striking sculptures, illuminations, projections, and performances that visualise the estate’s history. Guests are invited to dress in their finest tropical winter gear and meet the spirits of Vizcaya for the one-night-only occasion. Become a part of the show as your shadows meld with projections, and children carry lanterns along the path.

LOCATION Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, Miami DATES 16 December 2020

Vizcaya Museum and Gardens

(Photo: Vizcaya Museum and Gardens)

What Women Want

This year marks the 100-year anniversary of women’s suffrage in the United States and the amendment that granted women the right to vote. This photographic exhibition, drawn from the Cornell Fine Arts Museum’s Alfond Collection of Contemporary Art, features self-portraits by a variety of female artists, with each artwork designed to help disrupt established gender norms, construct new definitions of women in society, and advance the ongoing pursuit of political, economic, social, and cultural equality.

LOCATION Cornell Fine Arts Museum, Winter Park DATES Through 3 January 021

Megalodon: Largest Shark that Ever Lived

Produced by the Florida Museum of Natural History with support from the National Science Foundation, this exhibition invites you to enter the world of the Megalodon, the giant prehistoric shark that once commanded the world’s oceans. Learn about how new scientific discoveries continue to reveal the ancient creature’s remarkable story, including its enormous size, diet, relatives, evolution and ultimate extinction. The exhibit features real fossil specimens and a full-scale, 60-foot Megalodon sculptural replica.

LOCATION Florida Museum of Natural History, Gainesville DATES Through 10 January 2021

Florida Museum of Natural History

(Photo: Florida Museum of Natural History)


Another exhibition created to honour 100 years of women’s right to vote, Reframed showcases the works of four internationally renowned photographers and their analysis of the representation of women and female stereotypes in media, culture and science. By re-photographing, re-framing and re-assessing common imagery and ideas of femininity in a male-orientated world, the exhibition offers an inside look through the lens of deep-rooted female stereotypes and prejudices.

LOCATION Florida Museum of Photographic Arts, Tampa DATES Through December 2020

Dreaming Alice: Maggie Taylor Through the Looking-Glass

Celebrating acclaimed artist Maggie Taylor and her new body of work, an illustration of the classic children’s novel “Through the Looking-Glass” by Lewis Carroll, this exhibition features over sixty photographs that make innovative use of 19th-century photographic techniques, as well as scanned images of insects, dolls, flora and fauna. Taylor’s object scans and digital manipulation to her own photographs generate dream-like imagery, with a 21st-century take on the Victorian Era.

LOCATION Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art, Gainesville DATES Through 3 January 2021

Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art

(Photo: Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art)

What Carried Us Over: Gifts from Gordon W. Bailey

Organised by the Pérez Art Museum’s curatorial staff in collaboration with Gordon W. Bailey, a Los Angeles-based collector and scholar, What Carried Us Over showcases a wide assortment of artworks that were generously gifted by Bailey to the museum. A number of well-known artists from the American South are represented in the exhibition, whose works were created using a variety of media including drawing, painting and sculpture.

LOCATION Pérez Art Museum, Miami DATES Through 7 February 2021

Remaking the World

Drawing from the Ringling Museum’s permanent collection of modern and contemporary art, this exhibition features more than twenty paintings and sculptures by European and American artists associated with the art movement known as Abstract Expressionism – and specifically how it flourished in New York in the 1940s and beyond. Highlights include works by Joan Mitchell and Robert Motherwell, as well as a prestigious painting by Yayoi Kusama.

LOCATION Ringling Museum, Sarasota DATES Through 2 May 2021

Ringling Museum

(Photo: Ringling Museum)

Mars Landing Day

Discover new frontiers at the Museum of Discovery & Science which is celebrating the landing earlier this year of the Mars Perseverance Rover on the red planet with an entire day of Mars-themed events and activities in February. Visitors can craft and launch their own rocket and see how high it can fly, explore Mars’ surface via an interactive display, and learn about the way that meteorites impact geology.

LOCATION Museum of Discovery & Science, Fort Lauderdale DATES 20 February 2021

Waiting for the Night to Bloom

In the venue’s 80th year, Waiting for the Night to Bloom is one of two exhibitions appearing at the Norton Museum this winter. Exploring immigration, systemic injustice, and racialised violence, the exhibition by Colombian-born visual artist María Berrío marks her first solo museum survey, and the eighth exhibition of the Museum’s celebrated Recognition of Art by Women series. Its nearly 20 pieces include large-scale collages in which the artist reflects on issues of immigration and nature’s vulnerability through interior, domestic scenes and fantastical settings.

LOCATION Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach DATES 2 January 2021 – 9 May 2021

Norton Museum of Art

(Photo: Norton Museum of Art)

Pompeii: The Immortal City

Plunge into the heart of the drama and ruins of the ancient city of Pompeii at this immersive exhibition. Through artefacts, artwork, interactive mechanical devices, and multimedia, visitors can experience the destruction of the city and to identify with the inhabitants of that time, immobilised by the volcano’s ashes. Hear and feel the roar of the volcano erupting and discover how the excavation of Pompeii in the 18th-century influenced the development of archaeology as a field of study.

LOCATION Orlando Science Center, Orlando DATES Through 24 January 2021

Orlando Science Center

(Photo: Orlando Science Center)

Collecting Stories

Highlighting more than 100 works drawn from the Morikami Museum’s Permanent Collection, Collecting Stories is five mini-exhibitions within an exhibition, each exploring diverse ideas and unique stories illuminated by every-day objects. Among the five vignettes are an ode to early 20th century kimono in Dressing the Modern Girl, an exploration of the many varieties of utensils used for making and serving sake in Celebrating Sake, and an observation of the profound emotions associated with the moon in A View of the Moon.

LOCATION Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens, Delray Beach DATES 21 November 2020 – 3 April 2021

In God We Trust: Early Bible Printings And Founding Documents From The David M. Rubenstein Americana Collection

A stunning documentation of historic American Bibles and religious texts, many rarely displayed before, this exhibition features 18 books from the Americana Collection of Mr. Rubenstein, a prominent American businessman and philanthropist. Organised by the New-York Historical Society in collaboration with Mr. Rubenstein’s library consultant, the exhibition presents the stories of these books and the ingenuity and diversity of the early Americans who created them.

LOCATION The Society of the Four Arts, Palm Beach DATES 14 November 2020 – 17 January 2021

The Society of the Four Arts

(Photo: The first complete Bible printed in New York. Hodge and Campbell, printers. The Self-Interpreting Bible, New York. 1792. David M. Rubenstein Americana Collection)

Subject Matters

Gleaned from The Baker Museum’s permanent collection, this exhibition tackles subject matters typically found in visual arts, while exploring a wide range of characteristics and styles associated with modern and contemporary art. It also demonstrates differing artistic approaches, reflecting the personal experiences and concerns of individual artists, as well as the time and places in which they’ve lived. The exhibition has been curated into nine distinct sections: the Human Figure, Plants and Animals, Landscapes, (Sub)Urban Life, Still-Life, the Home, Artist and Studio, Narratives, and Nonfigurative Abstraction.

LOCATION The Baker Museum, Naples DATES November 2020 – July 2021

Van Gogh Alive

More than 3,000 Van Gogh images have been reproduced at enormous scale as part of this immersive art installation at the The Dalí museum. Synchronised to a powerful and evocative classical score, the exhibition provides visitors with a multi-sensory experience that harnesses technology and music to open a new window into the legendary Dutch painter’s artistic genius.

LOCATION The Dalí, St. Petersburg DATES 21 November 2020 – 11 April 2021

The Dalí

(Photo: The Dalí)

Blake Little: Photographs from the Gay Rodeo

Featuring photographs taken between 1988 and 1992 at events from Oklahoma to California, this exhibition explores the diverse and complex nature of individual and community identity in Western rural culture, with a focus on the hugely popular equestrian sport of rodeo. The images on display capture the visceral action of riding, roping and chute dogging, complete with an intimate glimpse into the lives of rodeo participants, the fierce competitiveness required to succeed, and how cowboy identity has been redefined in modern times.

LOCATION The James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art, St. Petersburg DATES Through 14 February 2021