Miami, FL. April 4, 2018 – The renowned Museum of Art and Design at Miami Dade College (MOAD MDC) will inaugurate the groundbreaking and highly anticipated Kislak Center at MDC’s National Historic Landmark Freedom Tower in downtown Miami on Saturday, May 19, 2018.

The Kislak Center will showcase extraordinary objects, including rare books, maps, manuscripts, Pre-Columbian artifacts, and other historical materials that offer perspectives on the events and personalities that shaped the modern world. The gallery, a permanent 2,600-square-foot exhibition space, will be open to the public on the first floor of the Freedom Tower, adjacent to its ballroom and historic New World Mural, which celebrates Ponce de León’s 1513 landing in the place he named Florida.

The inaugural exhibition, Culture and Change in the Early Americas, curated by Arthur Dunkelman, Director of the Jay I. Kislak Foundation and nationally-recognized art historian Dr. Carol Damian, will present a multidimensional view of the history of the Western Hemisphere beginning with early Native American cultures and extending to modern times. Through the lens of history, visitors will glimpse the process of cultural change and adaptation that continues to the present day.

Highlights from the exhibition include:

A stunning Early Maya Classic bowl depicting the Milky Way as a sky-serpent spiraling around the bowl. (Guatemalan Lowlands, 200–400 CE). The concept of a spiral design intrigued this Maya artist, who saw the universe as an ever-changing conflict between light and dark, day and night, this world and the spirit world and fashioned this design to illustrate those nuances.

·                              A Jade Mosaic Mask from the (Classic Maya, Guatemala Lowlands. 700-900 CE. Jade was highly prized by Maya and associated with fertility and lifegiving essence and used by priest and nobility in art, ornamentation and afterlife rituals.

·                              A fragment of a 10th century Maya Hieroglyphic Monument. The Maya carved important events such as victories, defeats, marriages and births, and the celebration of rituals on stone stelae and lintels

·                              Indian playing Trachtli, around 1529. This exceptionally rare and historically significant colored pen-and-ink drawing of Aztec jugglers is one of the earliest images of Native Americans drawn from life in Europe. Tlachtli is the Nahuatl name for a ritual ballgame that was played throughout the Caribbean and Mesoamerica. The drawing is by Christoph Weiditz, court artist of Charles V.

·                              Abraham Ortelius, Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, 1574, considered the first true modern atlas. It contained 53 newly engraved maps of uniform size and style, arranged by continent, region and state with the intention of being bound together.

·                              Corneille Wytfliet, Descriptionis Ptolemaicae Augmentum, 1598. The first atlas devoted to the Americas. It includes the first map devoted focused solely on Brazil. It also contains the earliest printed maps of central Canada, California, and the Southwest.

·                              Fracanzano da Montalboddo, Paesi nouamenti retrouati,1507. This work, more than any other, was responsible for spreading news of early Portuguese and Spanish discoveries. It includes the first printed account of the voyage of Vasco da Gama to India, the first printed account of the landing in Brazil by Pedro Álvares Cabral, all three voyages of Columbus to the Americas, and the Amerigo Vespucci letters on the New World.

·                              A first edition of the 1493 letter of Christopher Columbus, announcing his momentous discovery to King Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabel I of Castile. The five woodcut illustrations are the earliest pictures of what purports to be the New World.

·                              Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, Relación y comentarios, [1555]. The Spanish explorer’s account of the failed 1527 expedition led by Pánfilo de Narváez. He was one of four survivors of the 300-person expedition that began in Tampa Bay in 1528. After an eight-year, 2,400-mile journey, some members of this cohort became the first Europeans to cross North America. To survive, they learned the languages and customs of people they encountered and gained a reputation as healers.

The Kislak Center is made possible by a generous donation MDC by the Jay I. Kislak Foundation. Assembled over the course of many decades, the Kislak collection, considered one of the most important of its kind in the United States, includes some of the most significant original source materials related to the history of the early Americas. The Kislak gift included funding for construction of the center inside the Freedom Tower and access to more than 2,300 objects from the collection valued at approximately $30 million.

WHAT:              Kislak Center: Culture and Change in the Early Americas

WHEN:             Saturday, May 19, 2018

Wednesday, Thursdays, Fridays, and Sundays 1–6 p.m.; Saturdays 1–8 p.m.

WHERE:          Miami Dade College’s Kislak Center

Freedom Tower

600 Biscayne Boulevard, Miami, FL  33132

Entrance to the Kislak Center with Museum of Art and Design admission: $12 adults; $8 seniors and military; $5 students (ages 13–17) and college students (with valid ID); free for MOAD members, MDC students, faculty, and staff, and children 12 and under.

For updates and a full schedule of events, please visit

About Miami Dade College

Miami Dade College (MDC) is the higher education institution with the largest undergraduate enrollment in the America, with more than 165,000 students. It is also the nation’s top producer of Associate in Arts and Science degrees and awards more degrees to minorities than any other college or university in the country. MDC is also renowned for its rich cultural programming. It is home of the Miami Book Fair, Miami Film Festival, the MDC Live Arts Performing Arts Series, the National Historic Landmark Miami Freedom Tower, a major sculpture park and large art gallery and theater systems. MDC has admitted more than 2,000,000 students and counting, since it opened its doors in 1960. For more information please visit

About Miami Dade College‘s Special Collection Galleries

Housed at the National Historic Landmark Freedom Tower, MDC’s Kislak Center and the Cuban Legacy Gallery honor and celebrate the communities of South Florida and promote fresh perspectives on the ongoing processes of culture and change in the Americas.

About The Jay I. Kislak Foundation

The Jay I. Kislak Foundation preserves and advances knowledge of past cultures, civilizations and explorations. Established in 1984, the Foundation is a nonprofit cultural institution engaged in the collection, conservation, research and interpretation of rare books, maps, and indigenous art and cultural artifacts of the Americas and other parts of the world.

Kislak Media Contacts:

Cynthia Wine, Marketing and Communications Director, The Kislak Organization, 305-364-4214,