Hurricane Damage Remediation

Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, Miami, FL

The hurricane season of 2005 brought destruction to Miami, particularly to the European sculpture collection and antiquities at Vizcaya Museum and Gardens. Due to the museum’s location on Biscayne Bay, it is susceptible to high winds and storm surges. More than thirty antique columns, urns, and sculptures dating from the 2nd – 19th centuries were damaged. Columns and statues were toppled and shattered, porous stones were immersed in salt water, and the Barge, a distinctive feature of the National Historic Landmark site, was partially destroyed by a twenty foot high storm surge.

We arrived at the site after each storm to assist in emergency clean-up and to document the losses. Working with the museum’s staff, conservators prepared restoration plans and cost estimates for each artifact. Once approved, we began restoring the damaged works. Scaffolding was erected and fragments were salvaged. Many were hoisted directly out of the bay, cleaned, desalinated and preserved. Fragments that were lost or too badly damaged were carved from new stone. The Barge was re-constructed, which included the re-carving of two major sculptures and replication of nine cast stone balusters. New stainless steel supports were engineered and installed behind sculptures on the Casino building’s parapet to support them during future hurricanes. All work was completed on schedule and on budget with funding provided by FEMA.