MAMs Tobias Ostrander Talks Miami Year-Round


The Miami Art Museum is chugging along with the construction of its new Herzog and de Meuron building, scheduled to open in 2013. The foundation for the $200 million facility was completed last month, and soon some 400 workers will begin operations in Miami’s Bicentennial Park, erecting the museum’s three-story canopied structure overlooking Biscayne Bay. “It is now up to us to develop programs that live up to the ambition of the building itself,” stated MAM director Thom Collins in a press release.

Enter Tobias Ostrander, who was just appointed chief curator and deputy director of curatorial affairs. Ostrander spent the last decade of his career in Mexico, after starting out in New York, at the Brooklyn Museum and El Museo del Barrio. “There were dynamic things going on with Latin American art in the ’90s,” Ostrander told A.i.A. “My work in the U.S. was quite involved with validating contemporary Latin American art. A lot of that fight has been won, and it has much more visibility now than it had in the past.” Miami, with its mix of Atlantic Rim cultures, deals with “the same issues, questions and preoccupations that affect the greater Latin American community,” observed Ostrander, on the phone from Mexico.

Ostrander begins his new post at the end of September, after two years as the director of El Museo Experimental del Eco, an alternative space in Mexico City. Before El Eco, Ostrander spent eight years at Museo Tamayo Arte Contemporáneo, also in Mexico City, where he featured works by international artists like Bas Jan Ader, Luc Tuymans and Lisa Yuskavage, plus Latin American artists such as Liliana Porter, Artur Barrio and David Lamelas. He also hosted traveling shows on contemporary Chinese and Indian art and African photography.

Ostrander has several forward-looking goals for MAM: making research a big part of the museum’s focus, boosting the education department and finding a way to make the Miami art scene about more than just Art Basel. “Perhaps there’s room to create another moment in the calendar, maybe around a symposium, or something that brings in a more academic conversation.”