Protecting Vizcaya’s Treasures

Beautiful girl in an orange dress posing for photos in the pool

When you walk through Vizcaya’s Main House, you will notice that many of the rooms feature stanchions or barricades that limit where visitors can walk and reach. You may also see signs asking guests not to touch objects or sit on historic furniture. So why can’t you go in there?

Like those of other museums, these precautions are in place for the protection of the collection as well as for the safety of visitors.

Stepping Inside Decorated Spaces

Vizcaya refers to rooms that feature collection items, furnishings or delicate embellishments as decorated rooms or spaces. These differ from areas like the Courtyard and the East Loggia, where visitors can walk about quite freely.

While we do our best to offer visitors as much access to decorated spaces as possible, limits are put in place through barriers to protect collection items, which are often well over 100 years old.

While Vizcaya was built in 1916, many of its decorative objects were already antiques when they arrived on site. Some notable examples include the Admiral Carpet in the Living Room (c. 1450) and the wall murals in the Music Room, which are also from the 15th century.

When Vizcaya’s Collections Care staff enter these spaces, they wear protective booties to prevent damage to rugs. Staff also have a keen understanding of the condition of each room’s structural elements – doors, wall panels, ceiling murals, etc. – and how these can be managed.

For instance, the hidden door built into the bookcase in James Deering’s Library remains open at all times for visitors to access the adjoining Reception Room. Given that 100+ years of opening and closing this door causes natural wear and tear, this door is permanently open to prevent potential damage.


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