Head to Wikipedia and you’ll find this definition for “museum:” A museum is an institution that cares for a collection of artifacts and other objects of artistic, cultural, historical or scientific importance.

While most people associate museums with paintings and statues, the Wiener Museum of Decorative Arts (WMODA) in Dania Beach showcases exquisite porcelain china and stunning glass works by Dale Chihuly and other modern masters and is a perfect example of an unconventional museum.

Founded four years ago and located within the Gallery of Amazing Things, WMODA got its start from a personal collection that quickly overwhelmed the homes of 

Arthur Wiener.

“Mr. Wiener had always been a passionate collector of ceramics and glass art. When his homes were overflowing with his treasures, he would take them out of boxes and share them with others. It all started as an exhibition and grew into a full-blown museum,” said executive director and curator Louise Irvine, an internationally-recognized expert recruited by Wiener to open the museum.

Irvine argues that the fired arts are just as “legitimate” as traditional art mediums and notes WMODA offers one of the most exquisite collections in the country.

Visitors can admire beautiful pottery and porcelain art from the 18th century to the present day. WMODA introduces the work of British pottery pioneers, such as Josiah Wedgwood and Sir Henry Doulton, as well as European designers from the Art Nouveau and Art Deco eras.

The glass galleries showcase the art of French designer Renée Lalique and Venetian maestros from Murano, as well as local glass artists working in South Florida. The highlight of the Hot Glass gallery is an extensive collection of Chihuly. 

Contemporary ceramic art from the Ardmore studio in South Africa is also one of the favorite exhibits at the Wiener museum, which hosts a varied program of exhibitions and cultural events. Aspiring artists can even take classes at the museum.

WMODA is now the most popular destination in Dania Beach according to TripAdviser, attracting both locals and visitors to the exhibitions and classes.

“We finally beat the beach,” exclaimed a proud Irvine, who has devoted her career to the arts and education.

To learn more about the Wiener Museum of Decorative Arts, go to WMODA.com.

In addition to WMODA, check out these other interesting and unconventional South Florida museums:

23116 Museum Of Discovery And Science

Museum of Discovery and Science

401 S.W. 2ndSt., Fort Lauderdale


MODS — as it’s known — has traditionally been a destination for families and busloads of school children, but that’s starting to change. Under the leadership of CEO Joe Cox, the museum has begun an earnest effort to not only create a welcoming experience for LGBT guests and families, but to also initiate an exciting adults-only program, Discovery After Dark. The first event explored the science of brewing and beer. Who says science can’t be fun?


Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science

1101 Biscayne Blvd., Miami


The recently opened Frost Museum of Science, located on the shore of Biscayne Bay in downtown Miami, is simply amazing. The museum includes an aquarium AND a planetarium. On the first and third Friday of each month, rock out with a retro throwback to old-school laser light spectacles — set to music from Pink Floyd to Daft Punk and all under the planetarium’s 67-foot dome. Plan to come early and enjoy the beer garden in the museum’s atrium.


The Wick Theatre and Costume Museum

7901 N. Federal Hwy., Boca Raton


Costume World owner Marilynn Wick didn’t know what she would find in the crates of old theatrical costumes she purchased in a liquidation sale a decade ago. What she discovered were original costumes from over 35 Broadway productions and revivals with an estimated value of more than $20 million. The historic collection is on display in Boca Raton at Wick’s regional theater. One theater queen described his reaction: “I nearly cried!”

DowntonAbbey webres2

Downton Abbey: The Exhibition

City Place, 575 S. Rosemary Ave., West Palm Beach


Though technically not a museum, this exhibition on display through April 30 in West Palm Beach, takes a curatorial approach to thousands of props, costumes and set pieces from the hit Masterpiece series, “Downton Abbey.” If you found yourself glued to the tell every Sunday for six seasons, you won’t want to miss this experience to immerse yourself. Oh, and have you heard creator Julian Fellowes is planning to reunite the cast for a movie?


This story was published in the November issue of SFGN's high glossy magazine, The Mirror – on stands now. Click here to see the online PDF.

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