FREQUENTLY Asked Questions

Preservation

Why can’t we touch walls or objects in the Main House?
Decorative antique wall panels in the Music Room.

Historic buildings, materials and objects can be harmed when we touch them. Our hands, even when they are freshly washed, carry acids and oils that are permanently damaging to many different kinds of materials. Over even a short period of time, irreversible damage can be done.

Why can’t we touch flowers or plants or climb on trees or walls in the gardens?

Vizcaya’s gardens are different from a public park. The plants and trees are delicate, easily damaged and part of the museum’s living collection. Many trees are historic or rare and recognized as champion specimens, the largest of their kind. The architectural materials and elements are also fragile and historic. Some of these materials are more than 100 years old, just like the estate itself, but several are much older—many of the statues and architectural elements in the gardens are European antiques that are centuries old.

Interested in volunteering in our gardens? Learn more.

Water lilies is Vizcaya's gardens.
Are there plans to restore the fountains?
Frogg fountain in the formal gardens

Vizcaya’s fountains are almost 100 years old and have suffered damage due to time, salt air and tropical weather. While the water in the fountains was never intended to be as clear as that in swimming pools, the fountains are in need of re-engineering for better water circulation.

Interested in supporting the ongoing preservation of Vizcaya? Learn more. 

Why is there water damage on so many ceilings on the second floor of the Main House?

Although clay tile roofs, such as Vizcaya’s, are known for their durability, South Florida’s subtropical climate is aggressive, causing damage during storms and accelerating the deterioration of building materials. Water infiltration can occur where tiles break or copper flashing corrodes. In addition, the gutters and drainage systems of the Main House are historic, and often can’t adequately divert large volumes of water during heavy rains. Areas where water collects are vulnerable to leaks. Moisture-related damage, such as staining and paint loss, result from these leaks.

In 2020, Vizcaya will begin the process of replacing the roof on the Main House. 

Decorative ceiling and wall panels in the Music Room.
What restoration projects are currently underway at Vizcaya?
Electrical and maintenance tools placed on the floor

Extensive building systems upgrades—including plumbing and electrical—remain in the Main House in addition to the restoration of the building’s envelope components such as the roof, walls, and windows. As part of this process, Vizcaya will replace the perforated metal hurricane screens that diminish the appearance of the Main House from outside and obstruct views of the surrounding landscape from within.

Has Vizcaya been damaged in any hurricanes?

Vizcaya was first seriously damaged by the Great Miami Hurricane in 1926, the year after the death of James Deering, Vizcaya’s owner. In the 1930s another hurricane further damaged the estate. Although the Main House is now rather secure, the gardens and the statues within them are very vulnerable to tropical weather and have suffered damage in various storms, including Hurricane Andrew in 1992, hurricanes Katrina and Wilma in 2005 and Hurricane Irma in 2017.

For Hurricane Irma in 2017, a camera was placed on the Deering Balcony facing the Barge. The footage of the storm and the storm surge was captured and is part of the Virtual Vizcaya experience.

Stone barge in the water with pieces of stone laid out in front of it
Why is there trash floating in Biscayne Bay?
Bright yellow wooden card with writing on it being held up by hand

Vizcaya staff regularly clears the trash from Biscayne Bay and the mangroves. Tides and winds, however, move trash into the area on a constant basis, and Vizcaya does not have the resources to clean this area often enough to keep it free of debris. The trash is a reminder of everyone’s responsibility to dispose of waste appropriately at Vizcaya and elsewhere.

Vizcaya has partnered with the Frost Museum of Science and CARTHE, a team of ocean scientists at the University of Miami’s Rosensteil School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, creating The Biscayne Bay Drift Card Study (#BayDrift) to identify the origin of the trash washing up into the basin of the Barge and mangroves around Vizcaya as well as the rest of Biscayne Bay. To learn more about #Baydrift, visit CARTHE

Vizcaya offers many programs about the important topics of climate change and environmental stewardship. Learn more.

What’s that smell?

Many visitors notice a sulfurous smell. The smell comes from the mangrove shore ecosystem along the southeastern edge of the property and is a natural byproduct of a healthy mangrove forest. There are other smells as well; as an historic property and large estate with many ecosystems in a hot and humid location, Vizcaya can be a sensory experience. Various sources in addition to the mangrove shore contribute to odors, including aging materials and the salt air.

Decorative railing overlooking mangroves
Why don’t you replace missing elements from statues?
Statue in the gardens

Many of Vizcaya’s statues that are missing pieces or showing signs of wear and tear were like this when they were brought to the estate from Europe—many are centuries old and were purchased to help create Vizcaya’s unique look and feel. National preservation standards suggest that it is generally not appropriate to replace missing elements, particularly when we are not sure what the original looked like. This is especially relevant to statues that have lost their unique details over time. Vizcaya’s focus is to clean, stabilize and preserve the statues.

History

Was Vizcaya moved from Italy to Miami?
South facade of the Main House

No, Vizcaya was built in Miami by both local workers and European and Bahamian craftsmen. Certain antique elements and many objects in the Main House and gardens were purchased from other countries, including Italy.

When visiting Vizcaya, why not take a tour? Learn more. 

Why can’t we visit the Barge?
Vizcaya's Barge in 3D, spinning on black background.

Visitors cannot access the Barge today because it is in a fragile condition with uneven and dangerous paving. 

Visitors can see the Barge through a virtual tour, both online and on-site at an interactive kiosk. 

Was Mr. Deering married, and did he have any children?

James Deering was not married and he did not have any children. There are many reasons that people choose not to marry and we do not have documentation regarding Mr. Deering’s private family life.

In 2016, Vizcaya published, through the University of Chicago Press, Big Bosses: A Working Girl’s Memoir of Jazz Age America. In the book, Althea Altemus tells her story, beginning with her employment as a private secretary to James Deering of International Harvester, whom she describes as “probably the world’s oldest and wealthiest bachelor playboy,” Altemus tells us much about high society during the time, taking us inside Deering’s Vizcaya, an Italianate mansion worthy of Gatsby himself.

When visiting Vizcaya, why not take a tour? Learn more. 

 

Cover of the book, Big Bosses. A Working Girl's Memoir of Jazz Age America.
What happened to Vizcaya after Mr. Deering’s death?

Mr. Deering left Vizcaya to the daughters of his half-brother, Charles Deering, and the son of his sister, Abby Deering Howe. Charles Deering’s daughters, Barbara Deering Danielson and Marion Deering McCormick, and their families spent years caring for Vizcaya and seeking to make it publicly accessible. Family members lived in the house only occasionally after Mr. Deering’s death. Eventually the Deering daughters acquired full ownership of the property.

When visiting Vizcaya, why not take a tour? Learn more. 

 

Old photo of two women posing together in long white dresses
What is the square footage of Vizcaya? How many rooms are in the Main House?
The Courtyard of Vizcaya's Main House

Visitors can see approximately 38,000 square feet of Vizcaya’s Main House. The Main House in total is 45,225 square feet and contains 54 rooms, of which 34 decorated rooms are open to the public. This count does not include the basement service areas.

The unseen portion consists of basement spaces for electrical, storage and other infrastructure, and spaces that historically were staff work areas and bedrooms. Those staff areas today also function as staff offices, contain the Museum Archives and provide space for the collections and curatorial staff to do delicate object repair and restoration.  

Visitor Experience

Is admission required to visit the Café and Shop? If so, why?
Chicken caprese sandwich at the Cafe and Cafe

Yes, guests of the Café and Shop must pay admission because it is not possible to prevent unticketed visitors to the Café and Shop from visiting the rest of the property. Frequent visitors to the Café and Shop may wish to purchase a Vizcaya membership for free admission on an annual basis.

Do you decorate for the holidays?

Yes, we do. Vizcaya’s display of holiday décor includes poinsettias along the front entrance walk; a decorated, Deering-era inspired artificial Christmas tree in the Living Room; a menorah; and a Kwanzaa kinara in the Enclosed Loggia. These decorations are displayed from early December until approximately the first business day after the new year.

A Holiday Evening event is held annually, and will be listed on our calendar of events

Where can I find information about accessibility and accommodations?
Two young women talking in a crowd

Accessibility information and details are available at Planning your Visit

Operations and Employment

Who owns and operates Vizcaya?
Logo for Vizcaya Museum and Gardens

Vizcaya is operated by the non-profit Vizcaya Museum and Gardens Trust and owned and supported by Miami-Dade County.

If you wish to support the preservation of Vizcaya, a National Historic Landmark, you may donate online or contact Vizcaya’s Advancement Department at 305-860-8420.

Are there job openings at Vizcaya?
Students prepare for hand-on learning with a Learning Program Facilitator. Class and chaperone sitting on the steps of the South Terrace.

Thank you for interest in employment opportunities at Vizcaya. All current job openings are listed at Jobs.