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Miami, Florida
A Gilded-Age Mansion and Its Treasures in Miami
A Gilded-Age Mansion and Its Treasures in Miami

An elaborate stone barge frames Vizcaya, the Gilded-Age estate built by James Deering. Image courtesy of Vizcaya.

The winter home of retired American millionaire, James Deering, Vizcaya was completed in 1922. It remains as spectacular an example of Gilded Age design as it is a repository for the more than 2,000 years of art that it houses. But because it sits on the shores of Biscayne Bay, Vizcaya and its treasures have been threatened by the natural elements ever since it was built. Though hurricanes pose an obvious and dramatic threat, mold and deterioration caused by humid sea air are just as pernicious. Two grants from the NEH have helped Vizcaya preserve its collections. In advance of replacing its HVAC system, Vizcaya requested and received funding for data loggers that would create an accurate record of the museum’s storage environment. An earlier grant helped Vizcaya hire a conservator who was able to assess the condition of many works of art on paper that had already been damaged by mold, pests, water, and light before making recommendations for restoration and future preservation. Both grants helped Vizcaya strengthen its preservation efforts and ensure that its treasures remain intact.

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