With support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Vizcaya Museums and Gardens has launched a new program that uses 3D documentation and printing technologies to virtually transport visitors to spaces within the estate that are not accessible to the public.
The museum, a National Historic Landmark, worked with Daruma Tech (a Boca Raton-based technology company) and the University of Florida to create virtual interactive experiences, including a website, that enable visitors to learn about and explore areas of Vizcaya that normally are inaccessible. These include the Barge — a partly submerged breakwater decorated with mythical sculptures created by sculptor Alexander Stirling Calder (1870–1945) — and the Pool Grotto, which features an elaborate ceiling mural created by American artist Robert W. Chanler (1872–1930).
“When visitors come to Vizcaya they can virtually explore the Barge and Swimming Pool Grotto on a touch screen interactive,” said Mark Osterman, Adult Learning and Engagement manger for Vizcaya. “This interactive lets visitors explore the history, design and preservation challenges of these spaces. Visitors will also get to see and touch some of the 3D prints that were made during this project.”
Handheld-size 3D models of elements found on the Barge, such as its sculptures, and sections of the ceiling mural have been printed in partnership with Florida International University Miami Beach Urban Studios. These models will be placed on display and used for educational programs with daytime visitors and school groups.
Funding for this project is part of the Knight Foundation Arts Tech initiative, which aims to help arts and cultural institutions use digital tools to meaningfully engage visitors in art. Knight, which promotes informed and engaged communities, has helped institutions — from newsrooms to libraries — adapt to and thrive in the digital age.
“Cultural institutions have a big role to play in telling our stories and helping us understand the world around us. Vizcaya’s project embraces the power of technology to spread these lessons, and meaningfully engage visitors in our local culture,” said Chris Barr, Knight Foundation director for arts and technology.
Vizcaya recognizes its vulnerability to sea level rise and climate change. Through the use of 3D documentation Vizcaya is working to be a model of resilience for the community. 3D documentation allows Vizcaya to measure surface loss, predict rates of deterioration, analyze effects of sea level rise, measure objects and structures, enhance engagement and improve accessibility.