Monica Barletta is a sophomore in the Honors College at Florida International University. She is currently a Biology major on the Pre-med track and hopes to attend the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine. Outside of school, she enjoys creating art and spending time with her friends and family.
Vizcaya Museum and Gardens
Located in at 3251 South Miami Avenue in the present-day Coconut Grove neighborhood, The Vizcaya Museum and Gardens is just one of many estates that James Deering had owned throughout Miami. The estate overlooks Biscayne Bay, and is conveniently located just 10 minutes from the Vizcaya station at the Metrorail. Originally 180 acres of shoreline mangrove swamps and tropical forest, the estate now consists of 50 acres composed of the formal gardens and a native “hammock”.
The Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, formerly known as Villa Vizcaya after the northern Spanish province of Vizcaya (meaning Biscay), features a main house, ten acres of formal gardens, a rockland hammock, and historic village. It was commissioned by James Deering in 1912 to be built as his winter home. Vizcaya was inspired by the baroque Villa Rezzonico-Borella in Bassano del Grappa.
James Deering (1859-1925) along with his brother, Charles, and his father, William, built one of the largest corporations in American, the International Harvester Company. By the end of the 19th century, the company had grown tremendously in value and turned the Deering family into one of the richest families of the time. James Deering decided to retire and move to South Florida after being diagnosed with pernicious anemia. His doctors recommended sunshine and a warm climate to recover. Deering’s interests included sailing and plant conservation, which greatly contributed to the design of the estate.
After being introduced to artistic director Paul Chalfin in 1910, they almost immediately began their plans to construct the European style winter estate. Francis Burral Hoffman, Jr. was hired to be the main architect to design the mansion after one of Deering’s trips to Italy. Diego Suarez was later hired in 1914 to construct Vizcaya’s gardens.
James Deering died in 1925 on board the steamship SS City of Paris. The Villa Vizcaya was passed onto his two nieces who eventually sold it to Miami-Dade County to be open to the public in 1955.
The mission of the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens is preserving the former estate of James Deering to engage the local community. The goal of this museum is to educate its visitors on the art, history, and environment within the estate.
Transportation and Parking
The Vizcaya Museum and Gardens is located at 3251 South Miami Avenue, Miami, FL 33129.
Free parking is available to all visitors in the two parking lots: the main lot located on the east side of South Miami Avenue and the Vizcaya Village parking lot on the west side of South Miami Avenue.
As part of Vizcaya’s environmental initiatives, visitors are encouraged to use the following public transportation services:
- Exit at Vizcaya station.
- Cross US 1 on the pedestrian bridge.
- Continue in the same direction, along 32nd Road, to South Miami Avenue.
- Cross SW 32 Road and proceed to the South Miami Avenue crosswalk at Vizcaya’s Entrance Drive.
- Cross South Miami Avenue and follow pedestrian routes to Vizcaya’s Admission Booth.
- City of Miami Trolley
- Using the City of Miami Trolley App, take the Brickell Route to stop #39 on a Northbound trolley, or stop #15 on a Southbound trolley. (If coming NB, cross South Miami Ave). Then follow pedestrian routes from South Miami Avenue to Vizcaya’s Admission Booth.
- Citi Bike Miami
- A Citi Bike station is located at Vizcaya at the intersection of South Miami Avenue and SW 32nd Road.
- Ride Share Drop-off and Pick-up
- Ride share drop-off and pick-up should enter the Entrance Drive on South Miami Avenue. Visitors can be dropped off and picked up in the Piazza where Admissions is located.
COVID-19 Museum Guidelines
Visitors and staff must adhere to the following regulations:
- Visitors and staff must wear facial coverings at all times. Those without a mask will not be permitted entry, except children under age 2 or those who have trouble breathing due to a chronic health condition.
- Masks must be tied at the back of the head or looped around the ears.
- Social distancing of 6’ must be maintained, except for those who self-identify as a family and may visit the property in a group of under 10 people.
- Frequent touch surfaces will be regularly wiped down throughout the day.
- Restrooms will be cleaned at least every 2 hours and an attendant will be present who monitors that only individuals or individual family groups use them at a time.
- Narrow paths in the house and gardens will be restricted to one-way foot traffic.
- Vizcaya’s Café and Shop is currently closed.
- The second floor of the main house is currently closed.
Vizcaya is open to the public Thursday through Monday Admission is available from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Visitors may enjoy select areas of the first floor of the Main House until 5:00 p.m. and the gardens until 5:30 p.m.
Due to COVID restrictions, tickets are no longer sold at the door, they must be purchased online.
* On select days, a limited-time discount is offered while the second floor of the Main House remains closed.
Admission prices: Regular Prices Discounted Pricing*
Adults (13 and over): $22 $18
Child (6-12): $10 $8
Children (5 and under): Free Always Free
Visitors using wheelchairs: $10 $8
Military veterans and active duty: Free Always Free
Discounts and Partnership
- Golden Ticket – Vizcaya Museum and Gardens along with the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs offers free tickets to the arts for seniors of Miami-Dade County
- Culture Shock– Vizcaya Museum and Gardens is a proud partner of the Culture Shock Miami program. With the purchase of one $5 ticket for a 13-22 year old, a second $5 ticket can be purchased for someone of any age to accompany them.
*Member tickets are free with online tickets
Members enjoy exclusive benefits including:
- Free daily general admission for one year to the Main House, the gardens and special tours of the Vizcaya Village.
- Discounted daily admission for guests.
- Complimentary audio and guided tours of the Main House.
- Exclusive digital announcements and updates.
- Access to exclusive member events.
- Discounted admission to special programs throughout the year.
- Individual: $70 for 1 Year or $130 for 2 Years
All the above-listed benefits for one person.
- Dual: $90 for 1 Year or $170 for 2 Years
All the above-listed benefits for two people.
- Family: $125 for 1 Year or $240 for 2 Years
All the above-listed benefits of membership for one or two members and up to four children age 17 years and under.
- Family and Friends: $175 for 1 Year or $340 for 2 Years
All the above-listed benefits of membership for one or two members and up to two guests plus up to 4 children or grandchildren of the member (17 years of age or younger).
- Preservationist: $250 for 1 Year or $475 for 2 Years
All the above-listed benefits of membership for one or two adults, plus:
- Two guest passes
- Preservationist members may opt-in for Family-level benefits to include up to four children age 17 and under.
- Conservator: $500 for 1 Year or $950 for 2 Years
All the Preservationist-level benefits of membership, plus:
- Two additional guest passes (four total).
- Admits two members and two guests, or one member and three guests with each visit to Vizcaya Museum and Gardens during regular operating hours.
- Conservator members may opt-in for Family-level benefits to include up to four children age 17 and under.
Vizcaya’s Stone Barge
One of the most famous works of art in Deering’s collection is the Stone Barge sculpted by Alexander Calder that sits in the water in front of the Main House. This Barge is a breakwater that was designed in the shape of a boat. Mythical Caribbean creatures were carved on the outside of the boat. When it was first completed, it contained fountains, a latticework pavilion, and even trees. Over the years, the Barge has deteriorated, and guests are no longer allowed onto it.
The Statuary Walk Sculptures
The garden on the estate is filled with many Italian sculptures made from Vicenza and Istrian stones imported from Italy. These statues are from the Renaissance and Baroque periods. Filippo Barigioni, known for creating the fountain in front of the Pantheon in Rome, was the architect that designed some of the statues from Deering’s collection.
The Last Supper
This painting was made by Johan van Collen in the 16th century and depicts Jesus Christ at the Last Supper. This piece is part of a collection acquired from Claire Mendel. Since there is not much known about the provenance of this collection, there is research being done to determine if this piece was stolen during World War II by Nazis. It is currently up for display at the Main House.
The “Happy Days in Egypt” exhibition is currently being displayed in the entrance hall. This exhibition depicts James Deering in several different mythological tales. The exhibition was on display several years ago and has recently been brought back. In 1912, James traveled to Egypt and collected watercolor cards that documented his trip. These cards are believed to be created by his brother, Charles Deering.
The Vizcaya Museum has many new events organized each and every month. Some of the many events that the museum hosts include:
Vizcaya Village Farmers Market: Each Sunday from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm, the Vizcaya Village Farmers Market is open rain or shine. This is a free community event in which visitors can foods and products from local vendors while exploring Vizcaya’s historical farm and village.
Vizcaya Late: The museum hosts certain days in which it stays open for extended hours, closing at 8:00 pm. The event allows visitors to see the Main House and gardens at night and provides activities and experiences that change each month.
Spotlight Discussions: The museum chooses certain works of art to have spotlight discussions on each month in which visitors can chat with staff about the artwork.
VISITOR: Interview with Arlene, a sophomore at Miami- Dade College
Q: What made you come to Vizcaya today?
A: I’ve never actually been here before and a lot of people have told me good things about this place. My mom took her wedding pictures here and they came out really pretty so I wanted to take some pictures to post on Instagram in the same places.
Q: Did this place live up to your expectations?
A: I think it kind of exceeded my expectations, I had no idea that this place would be so beautiful.
Q: What was your favorite area or piece of art?
A: I would say the fountain out in the garden is my favorite. It has a great view of the garden, it’s just a really nice area to sit and look around. I took some really nice pictures there too.
Q: Would you ever come back?
A: I’m not sure, this place is really beautiful but it’s kind of expensive especially for a college student like me. Maybe I’ll come back in a few years, but I feel like I’ve seen everything I need to see in this visit.
PORTRAIT: Interview with Joseluis, Security/ Ticket check at the front entrance.
Q: When did you start working here?
A: I got this job almost two years ago.
Q: What is your favorite part of the job?
A: I love working here, my favorite part would be that I get to just stand here and look at the art all day. That’s one of the things that drew me into working here, I’ve always thought that this museum was one of the most gorgeous places in Miami.
Q: What was your favorite area or piece of art?
A: My favorite part of this place is probably the inside of the mansion. The whole thing is beautiful, if you haven’t yet I recommend walking down the halls and looking at each of the rooms.
Q: Has COVID affected anything here?
A: Yes, one of the main things is that we do not allow as many people on the property as before that’s why you have to buy your tickets online now. Once the ticket sales have reached a certain point for the day, they don’t sell anymore. I guess it’s a good thing that there are less people. It’s easier to keep an eye on everything that’s going on and for you, you guys can take better pictures.
The Vizcaya Museum and Gardens perfectly preserves Deering’s vast art collection, making it feel as if you are stepping back in time. Deering’s interest in collecting art is what makes the estate such an interesting place to visit, he incorporated so many art styles from different periods into decorating. The museum does well to fulfill its mission to engage and educate its visitors on the art, history, and environment within the estate. The only problem I have with the museum is that the price of admission is expensive and deters many people from coming to visit. Regardless, this museum is one of the most beautiful spots to visit in Miami and is somewhere that every Floridian should visit at least once.
“Happy Days In Egypt.” Vizcaya, 14 Aug. 2020, vizcaya.org/posts/happy-days-in-egypt/.
“James Deering.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 12 Dec. 2020, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Deering.
Kidd, Laurence. “A Brief And Fascinating History Of The Vizcaya Villas.” Culture Trip, The Culture Trip, 12 Aug. 2016, theculturetrip.com/north-america/usa/florida/articles/history-vizcaya-villas/.
Matt & Andrej Koymasky – Famous GLTB – James Deering, andrejkoymasky.com/liv/fam/biod1/deering01.html.
“Online Catalog.” Vizcaya, 16 Oct. 2019, vizcaya.org/collections/main-house/online-catalog/.
“Recovering Lost Nazi-Era Artworks.” Vizcaya, 29 Oct. 2019, vizcaya.org/posts/recovering-lost-nazi-era-artworks/.
“Statuary Walk Sculptures.” EverGreene, 28 Apr. 2020, evergreene.com/projects/vizcaya-sculptures/.
“Vizcaya Museum and Gardens Volunteer Opportunities.” VolunteerMatch, http://www.volunteermatch.org/search/org220411.jsp.
“Vizcaya Museum and Gardens.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 2 Dec. 2020, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vizcaya_Museum_and_Gardens.
“Who Was James Deering?” Vizcaya, 21 Oct. 2019, vizcaya.org/posts/who-was-james-deering/.