Did your ancestor work at Vizcaya? Exhibition to share workers’ stories

Did your ancestor work at Vizcaya? Exhibition to share workers' stories

Vizcaya staff members having a leisurely picnic, circa 1916.
(Photo, courtesy of Vizcaya Museum and Gardens Archives)

Vizcaya Museum and Gardens seeks stories about those who worked at the historic estate in its early days.

Mounting its first exhibition about staff life, Vizcaya will highlight the lives of former employees. Emphasis will be placed on the James Deering years when Vizcaya was being planned and while under construction (1910-1922) and when the estate was his winter home (1916-1925). The exhibition will be on view Nov. 8, 2017 through July 2018.

“Our centennial year is the opportune time to shine a light on those who were critical to the formative years of Vizcaya,” said Gina Wouters, Vizcaya’s curator. “The lifestyle that James Deering and his guests enjoyed was only possible due to the individuals who possessed the skills and experience to support it. It’s also crucial to recognize that while Vizcaya was the home of Deering, it was also the home of several staff members who worked for him.

“The exhibition will explore the staff relationships that developed while working on the estate, hierarchical structures in the work force, and social issues characteristic of the era,” Wouters added.

Although the exhibition will focus on the lives of domestic servants including the butlers and maids, all stories are welcome. The exhibition will explore the staff’s relationship to not only James Deering and his estate, but also to Miami and its diverse communities.

Stories can be sent to cap@vizcaya.org or posted on Vizcaya’s Facebook page at facebook.com/VizcayaMiami/ through Oct. 15. Reclaim a piece of Miami history that has been lost but not forgotten.

Located on Biscayne Bay at 3251 S. Miami Ave., Vizcaya is open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; closed Tuesdays, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. For more information, visit www.vizcaya.org, connect via social media, or call 305-250-9133.


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