The South Tower inside Vizcaya’s Main House is a visitor favorite. Home to Vizcaya’s famous spiral staircase, a frequent spot for photos, and four guest bedrooms, the Museum’s Collections and Maintenance teams have closed the space for a brief period to address a series of environmental and safety concerns.
Now that the South Tower has reopened, let us explore some of the work done in this space.
A leak in the tower skylight increased the structure’s vulnerability, making it necessary to remove the chandelier historically housed there.
Once the leak was repaired, corroded iron rebars were treated along with damage to the surrounding walls and plaster, which were then repainted to match historical photographs and records. The skylight’s wooden frame was reinforced and returned to its original condition, complete with a fresh coat of paint. The chandelier is in the process of being restored.
Vizcaya’s notable spiral staircase, which provides access to the tower rooms, required additional attention due to its popularity. The staircase continuously receives a significant amount of foot traffic.
Visitors’ constant touching of the surroundings resulted in a layer of grime, scuffs, and indentations that are more difficult to address due to the recurring nature of the damage. For an example of the impact constant touching has on an object, please watch the video below.
Before reopening, the spiral staircase was thoroughly cleaned, sanded, and prepped for a new coat of matching paint. This included all doors and windows found along its interior.
THE TOWER ROOMS
To fully address the issues within each whimsically named guest room, the spaces were emptied, and collection items were relocated to protect them from dust and debris. Now with a clean canvas, the team could get to work.
The first step of mitigation work was the installation of a new HVAC system designed to help manage factors such as humidity and overall temperature. The Collections team then conducted a full inspection and deep cleaning for each room, addressing elements that previously proved hard to reach.
Previous water intrusion incidents affected several painted surfaces throughout, peeling and flaking. These have all been addressed and color matched to ensure historical accuracy.
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more behind the scenes
For more behind-the-scenes content highlighting the work of our Collections Care team, check out the stories below.