“On December 4, 2019, the doors swung open to the world’s first Museum of Graffiti”
It was exciting, newsworthy, and 50 years in the making. Graffiti started in the late 1960’s as a children’s movement. Much different from the political graffiti seen in the streets during times of war and the ancient glyphs found in the catacombs of Egypt, the Museum serves to study, exhibit, and celebrate the type of graffiti that is also known as “style writing.”
Each visitor to the Museum learns about style writing in its most basic form—on the New York City streets in the early 1970s where children played openly. There was no internet, no flat screen TVs, simply kids left to their own devices in the City That Never Sleeps. What emerged was a pastime whereby the City’s youth would write their name in public. It became competitive, a race to who wrote bigger, better, and with the most style! Pseudonyms or “tag names” emerged as the risk associated with painting in train tunnels and highly public locations began to grow.
The authorities hated this! They believed in maintaining their mundane, beige and brick buildings. There was no vision in support of this art form that had been created. But as officials grew angrier and more vocal, graffiti as an art continued to blossom. Suddenly, commuters’ rides to work got more interesting and the city was dripping in color! Tags grew into bubble letters, bubble letters to burners, burners to the inclusion of characters, and so on!
Many of the founders of this movement went on to have blue collar jobs, some became accountants, and others took the art world by storm. But until 2019, there was no institution dedicated exclusively to preserving this ephemeral artform and telling its history. Whether you want to call it “vandalism” or “art,” this is an important part of global culture that deserves our attention.
Visitors to Miami have the opportunity to see a comprehensive exhibition inside the Museum and walk along all the outdoor murals that span for miles. However, it is the duty and responsibility of the Museum to push its research on the movement and its artifacts and artwork beyond the confines of Wynwood, Florida to continue our mission of education. Therefore, it is with great pleasure that the works of seven graffiti artists are travelling to the Artemizia Foundation in Bisbee, AZ where they will be cherished, preserved, and serve as a teaching tool in a beautiful town across the country.
Allison Freidin - Co-Founder Museum of Graffiti – Miami, Fl