Guest Post – Viscaya Museum – Miami, FL.
Visit Vizcaya Museum and Gardens
On a recent family trip to the Florida Keys, we decided to stop for a night at the Ritz Carlton Coconut Grove in Miami. As hotels sometimes do, the Ritz offered us complimentary tickets to Vizcaya Museum & Gardens. Honestly, we had not heard of the Vizcaya before, but it was a great little side trip! Since becoming members of Ringling Museum, we have grown to love the history of places like this. Disappointed there was not a docent available during the summer, we will definitely visit again when we can go on a docent-led tour.
We did a little of own investigating while touring the museum, and were fascinated to discover that Vizcaya was the just the winter home to James Deering. James was the son of William Deering, who inherited the family woolen mill. After investing in agricultural equipment, William changed the name to the Deering Harvester Company. As new reaper machinery increased productivity for farmers, the profitability of the company increased to the point that the Deerings became one of the country’s wealthiest families. James joined the company in the 1880’s, along with his brother, Charles. In 1902, J.P. Morgan bought Deering Harvester Company and McCormick Reaper Company, and combined them to form International Harvester Company, which became the largest producer of agricultural equipment in the United States. Now you know how James Deering was able to spend the millions he did on Vizcaya, traveling through Europe with designer Paul Chalfin to collect antiques and get ideas for the Vizcaya estate. Not all of Vizcaya is open at this point, though the museum hopes they will be able to offer more views into other rooms soon.
If you are traveling with kids, Viscaya is family friendly. I remember when our kids were young, we may not have taken the Ritz up on their generous offer. It’s a shame, but some museums don’t make young kids feel very welcome. I suppose they have good reason, and let’s face it, some kids just aren’t ready. I remember taking our girls to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City when they were about four and nine. I remember pointing to a painting and saying, with great relish, “This, is a Renoir.” I’ll never forget the look on my oldest daughter’s face when she said, “Is there a snack bar?” Yes, perhaps they were a little young. However, the Vizcaya welcomes the kids, even little ones. In fact, they have a free booklet, Exploring Vizcaya with Young Visitors , which will help you as you journey through the museum. I love how this booklet has questions to ask your children, like, “The main house took two years to build. How old are you now? How old will you be in two years?” We sometimes forget that little things like time lines are easier to understand when we add perspective. Also, though the gardens look inviting, try to tour the house first. The gardens are expansive, and will be a great way to unleash the energy after the tour! Do take your camera as we got some great family pictures.
If you do go to Vizcaya with your children (or grandchildren), you’ll find wonderful printables on the website. Print them before you go to give the kids an introduction to the museum, as well as give them something to do while you’re exploring. We’ve done this on many trips, and you’ll be surprised as there is so much available online!
With only a snippet of Vizcaya’s rich history presented here, I hope you’ll take the time to visit yourself and explore this fabulous museum.
Vizcaya’s hours are 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m., and they are closed on
Tuesdays, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Admission prices are $12.00 for adults and $6.00 for children 6-12. Children under 5 are free. As there is construction going on in the courtyard, these prices are reduced, so expect to pay a little more after September 14th, 2012.
Thank you to Kelly Stilwell for sharing this beautiful trip and museum with us here. Kelly is a fellow blogger and here is her information: