Beaux Arts was founded in 1952 by fifty founding members under the direction of Ann Atkinson, then Assistant Director of the newly built Joe and Emily Lowe Art Gallery. The purpose of the group was to promote and create an interest in art and art appreciation throughout the community, as well as to provide improvements, equipment and financial assistance to the Lowe Gallery (renamed Lowe Art Museum in 1968).
The first Beaux Arts Festival of Art, originally called the Clothesline Sale, was held in the spring of 1952 in order to give young artists a chance to meet the buying public. The Festival became an annual project, and is now a juried show recognized as one of the leading art shows in the country.
The Beaux Arts Ball was instituted in 1953 as a major fund-raising activity, and holds the distinction of being the oldest costume ball in South Florida. Themes vary widely, from Bal d’Erte to Phantom of the Opera to Monster Mash, and the creativity of costumes makes each year a unique experience. The 2004 ball’s theme was “Havana Nights”.
Beaux Arts has always had a strong commitment to children’s programs. In 1953, Beaux Arts built the Children’s Pavilion, which was later enclosed, then renovated and enlarged in 1994. Committee members organize, supervise and operate year-round classes that offer opportunities for children of various ages to study a variety of artistic disciplines.
Beaux Arts Rental Service was a unique service offered to the community from 1964 through 1979. The program was a cooperative effort between Beaux Arts and local artists in which art was loaned to businesses and homes for the dual purpose of extending enjoyment and appreciation of art as well as increasing exposure for the artist.
In April of 1965, Beaux Arts launched the Virgil Baker American Art Collection with a $5,000 contribution. The funds were used to purchase three paintings that marked the beginning of the first major collection of American Art in the southeastern United States. Since that time, Beaux Arts has made a number of significant purchases helping to round out the Lowe’s collections, including a bronze sculpture, “A Study of New Horizons” by Zorach in 1970, a 17th Century Flemish oil painting entitled “Portrait of a Lady With Her Three Children” by Thomas Willeboirts in 1985, a pre-Columbian figure from the Pihuamo culture of Western Mexico in 1987, a rare Seminole beaded shoulder bag in 1988, the Mimbre’s Bowls in 1990, and a 4-part costume ensemble by Beau Dick to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of Beaux Arts in 2002.
Beaux Arts formed the Docent Committee in 1966 for the purpose of guiding school children, visitors and other interested groups through the Museum. As an educational aid to schools and civic organizations, notebooks containing slides of the Lowe Art Museum and what it offers the community were compiled as a special project. The demand for these services became so great that the Docent Guild of the Lowe Art Museum was formed in 1972.
Another major undertaking was the opening of The Museum Store in October of 1974. The store was opened under the management of Beaux Arts and became financially successful within one year. In 1984, the direction of the store was turned over to the Docents of the Lowe Art Museum.
In the fall of 1974, the membership of Beaux Arts voted to begin work on a cookbook of
regional recipes. Seasons in the Sun, which enjoyed tremendous success through five
printings, was officially introduced to the public in September 1976. A revised and enlarged version of the cookbook was introduced in December of 1984, with plans implemented for a much more widespread distribution. In 1989, Beaux Arts voted to produce a new
cookbook. After two years of collecting and testing recipes, the Cookbook Committee unveiled Tropical Seasons in May of 1992. The new cookbook has won widespread recognition, including the prestigious Tabasco Community Cookbook Award.
In 1975, a youth group was organized to help Beaux Arts members staff openings, Children’s Art Classes and the Clothesline Sale. The group promoted greater art appreciation among high school students, as well as interest in the Lowe through 1977.
The Associate members of Beaux Arts began raising funds in 1978 in order to publicize the Lowe’s Barton Collection. The funds were eventually used to publish a catalog of the Lowe’s North American Indian Collection, enabling the Lowe to add the Collection to its traveling exhibits.
In 1987, Beaux Arts introduced a new project: “HANDS ON! – A Children’s Celebration in Art.” The program introduces Miami-Dade County children to the museum through a day of hands on projects and tour of museum followed by lunch. Underserved and special needs children have traditionally participated in the program, with Miami-Dade County high-school students participating on occasion.
The Holiday Table Showcase began in 1992. The tables, planned and decorated by Beaux Arts members for holidays and events throughout the year, enjoyed such success that the program opened to the public in 1993. A cocktail party for the community was added to this weekend event in 1999. This entire event was moved to the Spring in 2003 and continued through 2008. In March 1998, Beaux Arts had the privilege of acting as caretaker for the “Dresses for Humanity: An Exhibition of the Dresses of Diana, Princess of Wales.” We were chosen over several other institutions to host the second stop of the twoyear world tour for the People’s Princess Charitable Foundation. During its four-week exhibition period at the Lowe, Beaux Arts members, actives and associates, docents, and friends helped guide visitors through the exhibition. It was the Princess’ wish that her dresses be used to raise funds for children’s charities, breast cancer, AIDS and for the International Red Cross.
Beaux Arts contributions have been used for exhibitions, improvements, and acquisitions
to the museum’s collection. The 2004-2005 fundraising year marked two special events in
Beaux Arts’ history. The Endowment Fund value exceeded the historic level of $1 million and Beaux Arts committed to a $250,000 gift to the new Palley Pavilion of the Lowe. May 1, 2008 marked the opening of the spectacular Palley Pavilion, in advance of its scheduled completion date. The Beaux Arts endowment fund is currently over $1.4 million dollars and growing. In the early 2000s, Beaux Arts, through the creation of a special duty committee, developed a website: www.beauxartsmiami.org. This website maximizes communication with members as well as to the community at-large. The Communications Committee continues to expand and enhance the website. The Palette, The Beaux Arts newsletter, is sent almost exclusively via email, which reduces costs drastically. In addition, in 2008 the Art Festival began accepting digital photography (as opposed to slides) from artists who apply for the show.
During the past 60 years, Beaux Arts raised over $4.4 million dollars and recently pledged another $1.7 million over the next five years, which places the organization in the highest donor category, The Gables Society. In recognition of Beaux Arts’ $250,000 pledge to the Lowe 2000 Capital Campaign, the Beaux Arts Gallery was dedicated to coincide with the opening of the newly renovated Lowe Art Museum in December of 1996. Between the years of 1997 and 2000, Beaux Arts and the Lowe Art Museum participated in a Matching Gift for Endowment and each raised $50,000 for the new Beaux Arts Gallery. In 2011, Beaux Arts was honored by the University of Miami Alumni Association with the White Award, which recognizes an affiliate group that has made significant contributions to the University. A Development Committee was formed in 2012 to augment the organization’s fundraising capabilities.