In recent years, our museum educators have developed many new programs and resources to help visitors understand what Vizcaya is all about. Because most visitors spend only a few hours at Vizcaya, identifying a main message—what we call the “Big Idea”—was central to this work.
People often think of Vizcaya as very old and European when, in fact, it was built with modern conveniences of the early 1900s, plants and materials native to Florida, and the work of contemporary artists based in the United States. Because of these seeming contradictions, our “Big Idea” is about Vizcaya’s unique blending of the European and the American, with a distinctly Miami flair!
For visitors who prefer to experience Vizcaya on their own, we have introduced room labels, maps and family guides of the Main House and gardens. We also created the Discover Vizcaya audio tour to provide additional information for our self-guided visitors. Based on the audio tour’s overwhelming popularity, we have made it available not only in English and Spanish, but also in French, Portuguese, and Haitian Creole—the latter in respect of Miami-Dade County’s substantial Haitian-American community. This is the first permanent collection audio tour in Haitian Creole in the United States, and perhaps even the world.
For visitors who prefer more social experiences, we established discussion-based guided tours that explore the Main House and gardens. The development of these specialized tours involved extensive research and retraining of our Volunteer Guides, as facilitating conversation among strangers is more challenging than it seems!
Our Learning Division has also developed an extensive menu of programs and resources for teachers and students on a variety of themes related to art, history and the environment. These are linked to State of Florida curriculum and standards, and are inquiry-based and grade-specific to ensure active learning and age-appropriateness. Vizcaya’s Learning Program Facilitator initiative has enabled us to mentor young professionals in museum-based learning while significantly enhancing our services for students.