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  • Vizcaya Museum and GardensVizcaya Museum and Gardens Miami, Florida
    The Vizcaya is a North Italian 16th century villa or estate sitting on Biscayne Bay in Miami, Florida that was designed and built for agricultural giant James Deering for his winter residence. Miami-Dade County owns the beautiful mansion that is open for the public under the name Vizcaya Museum and Gardens. The estate consisted of 180 acres of land that included the house, formal gardens, huge lagoon gardens and a village nearby that took care of the estate. The main villa was constructed in 1914 and finished in 1916, while the extensive gardens not finished until the early 1920s. In the later years of building, materials and labor was difficult to find because of the first World War; and the house has been noted for its adaption of European cultural traditions to the area's subtropical landscape. The house itself blends European marble with the state's limestone, and the gardens are more Italian, but using plants that would adapt well to the climate. Deering would use the villa from 1916 until his passing in 1925. His advisor for the estate was Paul Chalfin, a decorative painter and curator that became involved in Deering's assembling of artworks and architectural materials for the entire project. He recommended the architect F. Burrall Hoffman to design the buildings on the property, with the gardens being designed by landscape architect Diego Suarez. The name of the property, Vizcaya, is based on the Basque province of the same name that looks out over the Bay of Biscay while the Vizcaya looks out over Biscayne Bay. Deering hoped to perpetuate the myth of Vizcaya, who was an explorer who favored the caravel, a ship that was used during that period, and incorporated the ship's symbol into the property's persona. The name Vizcaya means elevated place in Basque and a representation of the explorer, Bel Vizcaya, welcomes visitors to the property's entry. The main house is a mixture of many various Italian villas from the research that was done by Chalfin and others, although the house looks more like the Villa Rezzonico at Bassano del Grappa; and often referred to as the Hearst Castle of the East. Deering's descendants gave much of the property to the Archdiocese of St. Augustine and to Mercy Hospital in 1945. About 50 acres with the house, gardens and village are still standing, which were given to the county, in numerous transactions, but the county got the main house, and gardens for $1 million in revenue bonds and his heirs donated the furnishings and artworks to the county; with the village and remainder of the property given to the county in the mid1950s. It opened for public tours in 1953, as the Dade County Art Museum and in 1994 was made a National Historic Landmark. It was listed as a National Register Historic Places in 1970, and increased in 1978. The main house is now officially called the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, that contains the house, furnishings and art, as well as the formal gardens. It sits on 50 acres, with 10 of that being filled with the botanical gardens, and the museum houses more than 70 decorated rooms with many relics but dominated by the 15th through early 19th centuries European decorative art and furnishings. In 2008, the National Trust for Historic Preservation put the estate on the nation's 11 most endangered places, because of the constant threat of high-rise development on nearby properties. The site was picked for the formal welcoming of Pope John Paul II when he came to this country in 1987 and greeted by President Ronald Reagan. It became the venue for the 1st Summit of the Americas that occurred in December, 1994 that was hosted by President William Clinton and was the first in a series of summits for leaders of the American countries. From North, South and Central America, 34 delegates from nations came to Miami to create the FTAA, or Free Trade Area of the Americas. Every country was invited, except Cuba.

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  • Lowe Art MuseumLowe Art Museum Miami, Florida
    This art museum is found in Coral Gables, Florida, one of the suburbs of Miami, and is known as the Lowe Art Museum that opened in 1950, and managed by the University of Miami. It contains a wonderful collection of art with permanent collections in Renaissance, Baroque, 17th and 19th centuries European artworks, Greco-Roman antiquities, modern art and 19th century American art. Their national and international arts comes from Native America, Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Pacific Islands and ancient Americas. It includes a huge collection of glassworks that contain works by Jun Kaneko (Dango), Arneson and Christine Federighi (Globe). Artists included in the magnificent collection include Duane Hanson, Lippo Vanni, Knox Martin, Francesco Bacchiacca, Frank Stella, Jacob Jordaens, Alfred Sisley, El Greco, Claude Monet, Jusepe de Ribera and Thomas Gainsborough. The museum started out in three rooms in 1950, the history of the museum shows a never ending commitment by the citizens of the region wanting to serve the University of Miami as a teaching resource and showcase for the area's citizens important art museum. The growth reflects that commitment by those that have donated and given, starting out with the wonderful gift by the philanthropists, Emily and Joe Lowe, that soon turned into a free standing museum building that was the region's first art museum and the 17,500 objects have become one of the best in the southeast, with important works in Baroque, Renaissance, American, Asian, Native American and ancient American artworks. Their development of a magnificent collection is able to be traced to the continued support of the city and winter residents who patronized the museum from the very beginning with important gifts of art and money. In 1956, Alfred I. Barton, donated one of the best collections of Native American artworks in the country and in 1984 was honored to receive a gift from Robert M. Bischoff who gave 531 works of ancient Americas.

January 11, 2011