Florida Art World Prepares as Hurricane Matthew Barrels North

Museums and galleries are closing and securing outdoor works.

Rod Smith hugs his wife Karen as they watch the churning surf on October 6, 2016 on Satellite Beach, Florida. Hurricane Matthew is expected to reach the area later this afternoon. Photo Mark Wilson/Getty Images.
Rod Smith hugs his wife Karen as they watch the churning surf on October 6, 2016, on Satellite Beach, Florida. Hurricane Matthew is expected to reach the area later this afternoon. Photo Mark Wilson/Getty Images.

With top sustained winds of 145 miles per hour, and having killed at least 23 in Haiti, Hurricane Matthew is now heading toward the Florida coast. Florida art galleries and museums are preparing for a hit, closing and postponing events as Governor Rick Scott has declared a state of emergency for the state and called for evacuations of nearly 1.5 million Floridians in the face of the Category 4 storm.

The Institute of Contemporary Art Miami announced via its website that it’s closed through Friday morning, pending further advisories. The NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale is closed until Tuesday, October 11, as is the Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum at Florida International University.

Sited directly on the waterfront, the Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) was engineered to be hurricane resistant, a press representative told artnet News via email, adding that the museum is on a raised platform to protect it from flood surges. The museum’s 2,500-pound windows and hanging gardens are engineered to withstand Category 5 winds. Staff and engineers have secured outdoor artworks by Jesús Rafael Soto, Mark di Suvero, and Ernesto Neto. The museum is currently closed.

 

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The Bass has continued to adapt to the challenges of nature and a changing climate,” said Silvia Karman Cubiñá, director of the Miami Beach museum, in an email. “We’re preparing for the hurricane, as all institutions are, and as stewards of a collection, we take preparedness seriously. The Sylvie Fleury piece Eternity Now, which is on the façade of the building, has been secured, and the preparations for the Ugo Rondinone work, Miami Mountain, which will be unveiled this fall, have been put on hold for a few days. Like our neighbors, we’ll ride out the storm!”

“We are preparing at the gallery as I type,” emailed Anthony Spinello, of Spinello Projects. “Fingers crossed!”

Dealer Mindy Solomon was unflappable, saying via email, “My husband and I are long time Floridians. We don’t generally panic about this stuff. I’m too busy ulcerating over the art market.”

Insurance companies are also hard at work. Meridith P. Shanks, director of personal insurance at AIP – Affluent Insurance Program, is in close contact with wealthy clients, who have policies rising into the several hundred million dollar range. Their holdings include art as well as antiques and other collectibles.

Some of the protections AIP recommends can be more low-tech than those in place at institutions like the PAMM, Shanks told artnet News in a phone interview. To protect furniture with wooden legs, she said, simple solutions like placing the legs in plastic cups can protect from minor flooding.

“This is the reason people buy insurance,” she said.


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