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Mera and Don Rubell
Co-founders of the Rubell Museums

Don Mera bioThe Rubells created their collection by looking at art, talking with artists, and trusting their instincts. They started collecting in 1965, when Mera and Don were living in New York. They acquired their first work after a studio visit by paying on a modest weekly installment plan. Their son, Jason Rubell, joined them in 1982 in building the collection, reflecting the multigenerational family passion for discovering, engaging, and supporting many of today’s most compelling artists. The Rubells moved to Miami in 1992, and together with Jason and their daughter Jennifer, began developing hotels and an art foundation and museum to house and publicly exhibit their expanding art collection.

Since the Rubells’ first acquisition in 1965, they’ve built one of the most significant and far-ranging collections of contemporary art in the world, encompassing over 7,400 works by more than 1,000 artists—and still growing. The collection is further distinguished by the diversity and geographic distribution of artists represented within it, and the depth of its holdings of works by seminal artists.

Since they first started collecting, the Rubells have been drawn to artists early in their careers and those who have been overlooked. They were among the first to acquire work by now-renowned contemporary artists, including Jean-Michel Basquiat, Cecily Brown, Keith Haring, Rashid Johnson, Hayv Kahraman, Jeff Koons, William Kentridge, Yoshitomo Nara, Cindy Sherman, Yayoi Kusama, Kara Walker, Purvis Young, and Mickalene Thomas, among many others. They continue to vigorously collect by visiting studios, art spaces, fairs, galleries, biennials, and museums, and by talking with artists, curators, and gallerists. If the work grabs them, they dig deeper—conducting intensive research and having extensive conversations before they welcome it into their collection.

In 1993, their passion became their mission with the opening of the Rubell Family Collection/Contemporary Art Foundation in the Wynwood neighborhood of Miami, which pioneered a new model for sharing private collections with the public and spurred the development of the neighborhood as one of the leading art and design districts in the U.S. After nearly 30 years, the collection relocated to the Allapattah neighborhood in December 2019 and was renamed the Rubell Museum to emphasize its public mission and expanded access for audiences. Each year the Rubell Museum presents thematic exhibitions drawn from the collection with accompanying catalogs, with past exhibitions travelling to museums around the world, recently including the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia and the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City. The museum also maintains an internship program, a partnership with Miami-Dade County Public Schools, an ongoing lecture series, a public research library containing over 40,000 volumes, and an extensive artwork loan program to facilitate exhibitions at museums around the world.

The opening of the Rubell Museum DC in October 2022 further deepens the family’s commitment to sharing their collection as a public resource, providing opportunities for residents and visitors of the nation’s capital to engage with some of today’s most compelling artists. Dedicated exclusively to contemporary art, the Rubell Museum DC is housed in the historic 1906 building of the former Randall Junior High School in Southwest DC, inviting visitors to consider the role of artists as teachers, and to explore what they can tell us about the world we live in. The museum showcases artwork that provides insight and commentary on the most pressing issues facing our society today, situating them within the context of our nation’s capital, a place where ideas are debated on the national stage.

 

Jason Rubell
Co-founder of the Rubell Museums

Jason bioJason started collecting contemporary art in 1983 at the age of 14. He initially supported his art collecting habit by stringing tennis rackets. Jason acquired his first work from, the now legendary, Pat Hearn Gallery, a painting titled Immigrants by a then-emerging George Condo, which he paid for in installments of $50 every two weeks.

His early interactions with and support of artists grew into a life-defining passion. In 1991, while studying with Professor Kristine Stiles, at Duke University, an exhibition of his personal collection was exhibited along with a catalog covering the years 1983-1991. This exhibition at the Duke University Museum of Art contained 95 artworks by 53 artists including George Condo, Andreas Gursky, Keith Haring, Cady Noland, Sigmar Polke, Gerhard Richter, Cindy Sherman and Rosemarie Trockel. The exhibition traveled to ten university art museums across the country between 1991 and 1994. The mission of the traveling exhibition was to help young art historians feel that they could acquire artworks and participate in the story of art. In 2011, for the twentieth anniversary of this exhibition the works were all reinstalled at the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University and a new edition of the catalogue was published.

Jason’s studies at Duke and experience with organizing and touring the exhibition of his collection were instrumental in the family’s decision to open their collection to the public, ensuring it would serve as a broader resource for audiences to encounter contemporary ideas and issues. In addition to helping develop the family’s museums in Miami and DC, Jason serves as Vice President of Rubell Hotels.