Miami Living Magazine

Michelle Rodriguez

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LEISURE VIZCAYA MUSEUM & GARDENS stage of construction. My blog also has a link to a time-delay camera on the roof of the Main House, which highlights the beauty of Vizcaya's architecture and location, while tracking the skylight work. ML: How has the renovation affected museum fees? One thing's for sure, James Deering, a socialite and an antiquities collector, left a legacy that has enthralled many and will do so for generations. Vizcaya Museum & Gardens really is one of the most beautiful places on earth, consisting of 50-acres, with the villa and the gardens, 10-acres contain the Italian Renaissance formal gardens, and 40-acres are circulation and the native 'hammock.' The villa's museum contains more than seventy rooms of distinctive architectural interiors decorated with numerous antiques, with an emphasis on 15th through early 19th century European decorative art and furnishings. Construction began in 1910, and James wintered there from 1916 until his death in 1925. Vizcaya is distinguished by its Italian Renaissance inspired Mediterranean Revival architecture, its huge Italian Renaissance revival gardens, and lavishly designed, detailed, and executed interior architectural elements with European, Asian, and American furnishings, art and antiquities that span two millennia. The numerous sculptures in the gardens and villa are of ancient Greek, Greco-Roman, and Italian Renaissance origins and styles that reflect James's desire to showcase art along with the indigenous natural beauty. Vizcaya, unlike other historic house museums, contains the original antiques, furnishings and art, thanks to its heirs, who allowed this to happen as long as the estate is used as a public museum in perpetuity. In 1994, Vizcaya (3251 South Miami Avenue in the north Coconut Grove area) was designated a National Historic Landmark, with an open-air courtyard and extensive gardens on Biscayne Bay and has been undergoing a restoration. Part of this renovation includes installing a glass canopy to replace the protruding glass-and-steel pyramid that covers the courtyard. The canopy will let in more natural light and will be coated to block out heat and ultraviolet radiation. This $2.7 million project will completed as part of a $50 million renovation of the museum. Joel Hoffman, Executive Director of Vizcaya Museum & Gardens, discussed this renovation of Vizcaya's Main House with Miami Living. Miami Living: How will the renovation of the courtyard skylight be different from its previous incarnation? Joel Hoffman: We decided it was time to replace the original skylight because it was leaking and not compliant with Miami-Dade County's stringent hurricane requirements put in place after Hurricane Andrew. The new skylight will be much lighter and brighter than the first thanks to technological advances. The 2012 skylight, for example, will have glass panels that are about three or four times larger and much clearer, a substantially simpler structure, and a light, off-white surface that we think will blend with the sky far better than the dark brown metal of the original skylight. These qualities should also provide better views of interesting rooftop elements from within the house. ML: What can people read about in your blog that touches upon the skylight renovation? JH: My blog provides brief updates on the construction project, with snapshots of the work each week. I'm also trying to give our visitors a sense of what to expect when they come to Vizcaya, based on the 92 MIAMI LIVING JH: Reduced admission fees will be available until September, and following the completion of the skylight project, our previous fee structure will be restored, though visitors will enjoy a new, improved Vizcaya! (Adult $12, Child 6-12 $ 6, Children 5 and under Free, Seniors 62 and older with ID $ 9, Students with ID $ 9, Visitors using wheelchairs $ 8; automobile parking is free. Admission to Vizcaya Museum and Gardens must be purchased to enter the Vizcaya Café.) ML: Will the Moonlight Garden Tours take place during the renovation? And will Tea on the Terrace take place whether or not the renovation is completed as scheduled? JH: Moonlight Garden Tours are held in the winter months, so visitors can enjoy our gardens in cooler weather. These will resume in the coming winter, providing visitors a chance to see the new skylight as they grab a refreshment or enjoy music in the Courtyard. Tea on the Terrace resumes in October. Vizcaya is open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. except Tuesdays, Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. For more information visit: ML

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