Freedom Tower and MDC Special Collections

Please note that the Museum of Art and Design and the MDC Special Collections are temporarily closed for renovations to the Freedom Tower.

Freedom Tower

Miami Dade College’s National Historic Landmark Freedom Tower has stood as an icon on the Downtown Miami skyline since 1925. A storied location with deep connections to Miami’s Cuban American community, the Freedom Tower is home to the flagship Museum of Art and Design and MDC Special Collections, which include the Cuban Legacy Gallery, the Kislak Center, and the Exile Experience. The Freedom Tower also houses MDC’s Cultural Affairs Department and the offices of the Miami Book Fair, the Miami Film Festival, and MDC Live Arts.

Built in 1925 as a new home for the city’s oldest newspaper and a grand architectural assertion of Miami’s urban ambition, the Freedom Tower became an emblem of the ideal of America as a democratic haven for those seeking freedom and opportunity. From 1962 to 1974, it served as the Cuban Assistance Center, a crucial help center for hundreds of thousands of Cuban refugees fleeing communism and political persecution. These immigrants would transform Miami. Following several decades of neglect, the Tower was rescued by Cuban American community leaders seeking to honor the Cuban legacy in Miami, who donated it to Miami Dade College in 2005.

MDC Special Collections

The galleries of the MDC Special Collections are located on the first floor of the Freedom Tower. Holding important historical and archival materials, as well as hosting a dynamic range of contemporary artists and discussions, MDC Special Collections promote fresh perspectives on the ongoing processes of culture and change in the Americas.

The Kislak Center exhibits rare objects from the Jay I. Kislak collection, donated to Miami Dade College in 2018. Assembled over the course of many decades, the collection is considered one of the most important of its kind in the United States and includes some of the most significant original source materials related to the history of the early Americas; it includes rare books, maps, manuscripts, pre-Columbian artifacts, and other historical materials that offer new perspectives on the events and personalities that helped shape the modern world.

The Cuban Legacy Gallery hosts dynamic exhibitions of contemporary art that reflects the impact of Cuban culture in South Florida and throughout the world. Showcasing artists of Cuban descent, these exhibitions elucidate the richness of the Cuban American experience. The exhibitions and related programs often use cultural heritage as a lens to explore history, identity, and exile.

The Exile Experience presents interdisciplinary lectures and displays that explore the diverse experiences of exiled communities. The Exile Experience considers forced displacements, diasporic movements, memory, and cultural identity to highlight the remarkable role that exile communities continues to play in the development of Miami.

A new website for the Freedom Tower and MDC Special Collections will be launched soon. Stay tuned!