If there’s one thing you must do in Miami, it’s visit The Wynwood Walls and surrounding Wynwood Arts District. This inner city zone, south of Little Haiti and north of Downtown Miami and Little Havana, is a must-see sight in Miami, and has no doubt, been an inspiration to other cities around the world.
The Wynwood Walls came about in 2009 when developer and community revitaliser Tony Goldman decided to revive what was then known as the Miami Warehouse district. He wanted to find a way to inject life and vibrancy into the area and he immediately recognised Wynwood’s potential. These derelict buildings spread across a neglected inner city area of Miami provided the perfect canvas for urban art.
Until then, no one had any reason to come to this forgotten part of the city. But Goldman gathered hundreds of different artists together and they injected colour and vibrancy into Wynwood through their graffiti murals and street art.
Of course, it’s not the first time we’ve seen run-down industrial areas being transformed into edgy outdoor art galleries. Just look at the likes of Williamsburg in New York and Shoreditch in London. These arty neighbourhoods were all run down and in desperate need of an injection of life in their former years.
And look at the transformation that the once troubled neighbourhood of Woodstock in Cape Town has undergone, which I wrote about here. With projects like this, investment and gentrification often follows. But one of the biggest benefits, is it also acts as a platform for emerging artists all around the world.
And let’s not forget that often, street art can inspire young people from all walks of life, to channel their creativity in positive ways. In Woodstock especially, it also provided a canvas for highlighting important social, conservational and political issues through history.
Can you tell I’m a fan?
Speaking of Woodstock, I was intrigued to find out that Faith47, the artist behind many of the murals you find in this Cape Town neighbourhood, has actually had her work exhibited at The Wynwood Walls, painting a mural for the Wynwood Doors and participating in the Wynwood Walls Art Basel program for three consecutive years.
As you enter the Wynwood Walls, you’ll find all sorts of international works spread across 80,000 square feet – and they’re all vibrant and striking in their own way.
In the centre of the exhibition space are landscaped gardens and various sculptures and boulders, so you can take a seat, soak up some sun and admire the works.
There’s a quirky little gift shop and a couple of restaurants/cafes on site…
..as well as a really cool indoor gallery which had an incredible chandelier and neon-themed exhibition on display.
As you can expect, everyone is dying to get the perfect photograph in front of these striking pieces of art and who’d blame them, they’re incredible. We spent around an hour here getting very snap happy but I could easily have stayed longer.
Once you’ve explored the walls, you’ll want to put aside some time to walk through the streets of the surrounding neighbourhood because the artwork continues through this area known as ‘Outside the Walls’.
Once again, Faith47 has created works for the buildings in this area, alongside aritists such as Swoon and Kaski. The streets immediately outside the walls are some of the most artistic I’ve ever seen.
You’ll also find heaps of quirky independent boutiques, record shops, restaurants and cafes to explore.
A word of warning, the wider Wynwood area is perhaps not the safest area of Miami. We walked through some of it and were absolutely fine, but just tread with caution.
One of the most eye-catching things we discovered in the Wynwood area was an outdoor sculptural display called the Metamorfosis/Metamorphosis.
Located on the corner of 23rd Street and North Miami Avenue, it’s made up of statue of a man (called ‘The Fisherman’) carrying fish over his back and a circle of dozens of smaller statues next to it (known as ‘The Witness’).
In case you’re wondering (as I was at the time), this striking artistry was created by artists Alberto Aragon Reyes in order to highlight the issue of rising seawater levels. The plan is to, one day, install them underwater in Florida to act as a habitat for coral life.
The Wynwood Walls and surrounding Wynwood Arts District is constantly in flux. New installations will come and go, especially during events like Miami Art Week. So the art you see here may well be different if and when you happen to visit, but that’s the beauty of street art. It’s always changing and evolving. And it’s an art form that more and more cities are beginning to embrace.
Essential info for visiting The Wynwood Walls
Getting to The Wynwood Walls
You will find The Wynwood Walls at 2520 NW 2nd Avenue, Miami, FL 33127, in between Joey’s Italian Café on 25th Street and the Wynwood Kitchen & Bar on 26th. There are no metro or rail links nearby, but it is well-connected via public buses (check your route on the Moovitapp). Alternatively, you’ll find it pretty easy to get a yellow cab or Uber in the city.
Does it cost anything to visit the Wynwood Walls?
No, it’s absolutely free for members of the public to visit the Wynwood Walls
When can you visit the Wynwood Walls?
Many people ask whether you can visit the Wynwood Walls at night and the answer is yes, you can. While I’d argue that there’s nothing better than seeing these vibrant murals in the bright Miami sunshine, you can actually visit the Wynwood Walls up until 11.30pm Monday to Thursday and midnight on a Friday night. And as it’s a free attraction, maybe you could do both!
My top tip for visiting the Wynwood Walls
My tip for getting the most out of your daytime visit to The Wynwood Walls would be to arrive well before the doors open at 10.30am to beat the rush of tour buses and groups that start to arrive en mass throughout the morning. You also have a better chance of capturing your best photography if you arrive early, as it’s more likely to be crowd-free.
Have you been to The Wynwood Walls? What did you think? Leave your comments and let me know…