Street art is here to stay. Just ask Allison Freidin and Alan Ket, who opened an entire museum in Wynwood dedicated to the style. The 3,200-square-foot Museum of Graffiti is now the city’s most vibrant indoor-outdoor gallery.
The duo came up with the idea in March 2018, when they met in the Magic City. Ket, a graffiti artist, historian, and collector, was serving as gallery director for the Wynwood Walls, while Freidin was working as an attorney represent- ing local street and graffiti artists in the community. The museum officially opened in December 2019 and aims to uplift the controversial art form and educate the public on its current direction as a global movement.
“Graffiti exists in every major metropolitan city in the entire world,” says Freidin. “It has permeated our culture through fashion, music, collectibles, and sports. We are the only institution shining light on the artists of this genre. This is important because graffiti artists have been routinely marginalized and excluded from mainstream institutions due to the stigma associated with spray paint.”
Museum visitors are greeted with the permanent exhibit “Style Masters: The Birth of the Graffiti Art Movement,” which traces the evolution of graffiti in all its sociological and art-historical complexity. A wall of black-and- white photographs by famed photographer Martha Cooper tells the tale of its roots in New York City in the early 1970s, when the artists’ tags on subway tunnels were viewed as anarchic damage to public properties and abhorred by authorities. Its rise in artistic significance and popularity over decades is portrayed along a timeline through its shift to commissioned art murals, works on canvas, and modern artifacts that are now embraced not only by the public but also
by institutions and commercial organizations.
The museum also features a fine art gallery and a gift shop stocked with unique merchandise. Rotating programming includes a free kids’ graffiti drawing class and a spray paint crash course. In addition, the museum has been given outdoor exhibition space for 11 exterior murals that endorse graffiti as a means of visual communication, an essential aspect of its cultural value in the fabric of urban landscapes.
“The mission of the museum is to honor the aerosol artists from around the world who have trans- formed parts of our communities into vibrant masterpieces,” says Freidin. “We are engaged in the recording of oral histories and digital archiving to preserve the history of this underserved art form. Prior to the opening of the museum, you could walk around Wynwood and see massive murals, but there was nowhere to learn about the founders of the movement, the techniques, and its rapid evolution from a child’s pastime into the largest growing art form of our times.”