HistoryMiami updating its two buildings
Written by Gabi Maspons on September 5, 2017
With all the changes downtown, HistoryMiami doesn’t want to get left behind. Jorge Zamanillo, HistoryMiami president and CEO, is updating its two buildings on the Cultural Center Plaza at 101 W Flagler St. and planning to connect the two to better serve the community.
“It’s all about the visitor experience,” Mr. Zamanillo said. “It starts the minute you leave the garage and walk into our complex. From the tiles and the paint to how people find the museum, the experience is not just about the exhibits.”
The museum experience even extends past the property, Mr. Zamanillo said.
“Can you get here using public transit or find a place to park? Are there places to eat around the area once I leave?,” he said. “We always think about how we’re serving the community. There are lots of big changes coming to the area, and we want to make sure we’re keeping up.”
After the Miami Art Museum moved to 1103 Biscayne Blvd. and became the Pérez Art Museum Miami, HistoryMiami began installing exhibitions in the south building on the plaza, increasing its public programming spaces by 133%.
The south building has rotating shows and major exhibits, where the 5,000-squate-foot Hurricane Andrew exhibit is currently on display, while the north building holds the permanent exhibits, including the 10,000-year history of South Florida, archives and a research center.
In 2015 HistoryMiami hired M.C. Harry and Associates to advise on how to connect the two buildings using Miami-Dade General Obligation Bonds (GOB) receipts.
“They performed a feasibility study and came up with different scenarios to use the GOB money to enhance the plaza and have additional interior and exterior work done,” Mr. Zamanillo said.
The original GOB funding allocated to the museum was about $10 million, and the plans from the study ranged from $20 million to $30 million, Mr. Zamanillo said.
“It takes time with county and GOB funding to decide how to allocate, so there have been some delays in deciding how to use the limited funds,” he said.
For now, HistoryMiami is using the money to enhance the facilities, not make major modifications.
“We’re adding shade between the library, parking garage, and the north and south buildings and enhancing the courtyard to use as an event space,” Mr. Zamanillo said. “We’ll also be adding seating, improving the ramp and the walkway to the museum.”
While the shading won’t protect against storms, Mr. Zamanillo said he hopes to expand the project to connect the north and south buildings soon.
“For now, we’re using the funding to create a more inviting environment,” Mr. Zamanillo said. “We will need to think about long-term solutions to connect the buildings and assess how the museum is serving the community.”