Admittedly secondary to my concern about my brother and friends in Naples, I was concerned about the effect of hurricane Irma on the numerous art museums throughout South Florida.
Now that the storm has passed, damage assessments are underway. It’s early days yet, and information about conditions throughout the area is spotty. Power outages remain extensive, and a very limited schedule of flights in and out is just beginning today.
Roughly 2.5 million power outages have been restored throughout the state — which still leaves 2 ½ million people without power. The initial assessment showed that damage was less extensive on the eastern half of the state, and FPL estimates that power will have been restored on the East Coast by the end of this coming weekend, with the possible exception of pockets of most severe damage. Restoration on the western half is expected to take longer, projected to be completed by Sept. 22.
Miami International Airport suffered significant water intrusion, as did Fort Lauderdale’s airport. MIA plans 30 percent of the usual number of flights today, Tuesday, and expects to see that percentage increase daily until it reaches full operations — possibly by this weekend. Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport reopened at 4 a.m. today, also operating a more limited schedule than normal.
Limited flights are expected to resume tomorrow at Southwest Florida International Airport, located between Naples and Fort Myers. This depends in part on how quickly area hotels have rooms for airline crews to spend the night. As of this morning, an airport spokesperson was optimistic, saying, “Heading into the weekend, things look good for a full flight schedule.”
Here’s a quick look at what I’ve been able to find about the status of some favorite South Florida art museums. In only a couple of cases is information available at this time about damage to structure and no word yet on whether any art sustained damage.
Vizcaya Museum and Gardens — Sitting directly on Biscayne Bay, the historic 1914 mansion Vizcaya Museum and Gardens reported flooding in its basement, but spokesman Luis Espinoza said, “The good news is there are no art collections stored” in the inumdated areas. In 1992, the extensive gardens at Vizcaya were destroyed by hurricane Andrew, and it took a great deal of time and money to restore them. Let’s hope that the damage from Irma was much, much less. Since closing in advance of the storm on September 6th, no updates have appeared on the Vizcaya website, Facebook page or Twitter.
Perez Art Museum Miami — Another extremely vulnerable museum is the Perez Art Museum Miami. PAMM is located immediately at the edge of Biscayne Bay, with massive windows overlooking the water. Because of this exposed location, the structure was built using the most advanced technologies to withstand Category 5 winds, and it sits on a raised platform to protect it from storm surge, and outdoor elements — from sculpture to its famed hanging gardens — were built to weather massive storms.
This was the first serious storm to hit since PAMM opened in its Herzog & de Meuron-designed building in 2013, and a museum spokesperson said. “PAMM sustained no damage to the building, and suffered no flooding. The roof held well, and there was no problem with the hurricane-resistant windows.”
The Perez Art Museum Miami website says it will remain closed until September 14.
Bass Museum — The Bass Museum in Miami Beach has just undergone an extensive 2-year renovation and expansion, and is scheduled to reopen October 8, 2017. Immediately after the storm, director Silvia Karman Cubiñá reported that “the museum is in the process of assessing the extent of Irma’s impact. No further information is provided on the website or social media.
Frost Art Museum — No information is available about the other than their Sep 6 statement: “Due to Hurricane Irma, museum will be closed starting 9/6/17 until further notice. All events will also be postponed until further notice.” Further notice has yet to be posted.
The Wolfsonian — FIU posted on Sept 6th: Due to inclement weather The Wolfsonian — FIU will be closed until further notice.
Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami — No information available about plans to reopen.
Lowe Art Museum — No information available about plans to reopen.
Boca Raton Museum of Art — is expected to be closed through next Monday, Sept. 18
Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens — posted this statement on their website: “We are closed until further notice as we assess and repair damages incurred from Hurricane Irma.”
The Baker Museum — Artis Naples — posted this statement by Kathleen van Bergen, CEO and President: “We are all in the process of assessing our homes, neighborhoods and our cultural campus. Until power is fully restored, we are unable to complete a thorough assessment; however, initial information indicates that Irma was kind to us. I look forward to sharing more information once it is available. We are grateful and will return to our mission as soon as is safely possible. Until then, please know that the Artis — Naples administrative and box offices remain closed and our cultural activities are cancelled until further notice.”
Van Bergen told Artnet News that artist Arik Levy was able to personally oversee protection of the work in his solo show, which opened September 5.
Norton Museum of Art — closed until further notice
NSU Art Museum of Ft. Lauderdale — closed until further notice
As we learn more, updates will be posted on the ArtGeek facebook page.