At Vizcaya we are constantly active in the preservation and conservation of this unique and fragile estate and its extremely varied collections. These collections include archival material and historic photographs, textiles, sculptures, paintings and furniture, monumental architectural elements and a living collection of historic plants, some of which date back to James Deering’s day. Though James Deering used high-quality materials and construction techniques at Vizcaya, the estate is nearly a century old and for many years funding was not available for maintenance and capital projects.
Thanks to a $50 million allocation for Vizcaya through the Miami-Dade County Building Better Communities General Obligation Bond in combination with robust fundraising, the past several years have provided unprecedented opportunities for preservation and conservation.
The estate’s subtropical location on Biscayne Bay is deeply relevant to Vizcaya’s beauty and significance. This location, however, also exposes Vizcaya’s historic artifacts to saline and damp conditions and the periodic devastation of hurricanes, the first of which occurred in 1926, just a year after James Deering’s death.
With every preservation and conservation project, we first conduct archival and field research to understand how things were made and how they looked in Deering’s day. Vizcaya’s designers wanted Vizcaya to look old as soon as it was built, so we don’t strive to make things look pristine or new.
We also perform conditions assessment and materials analysis to document prior treatments and determine what approach might be best. And on each of these projects we collaborate with architects, conservators and scholars with the appropriate skills, training and experience.
The links below provide information on recent and current projects that play a critical role in saving Vizcaya.