Hot Hot Heat Part 3: Pérez Art Museum Miami

The final stop along my plant baby filled, tropical adventure was the Pérez Art Museum Miami. Originally, I intended to visit this museum to see its collection of international contemporary and modern art which included an exhibition of Doris Salcedo‘s sculptures and installations. (I was particularly impressed with its dedication to showing Hispanic and Latinx artists who aren’t Diego Rivera or Frida Kahlo). I was blissfully unaware of the hanging gardens that adorn the outer edges of the building and was pleasantly surprised to discover them as I ascended the stairs from the car park to the museum’s terrace.

The museum’s grounds are like nothing I have ever seen in the intentionality of its design.  The structure was designed by architects Herzog & de Meuronhanging ‘to “bring the park into the museum” in new and innovative ways.’ According to an informative video on the sustainability of the museum, the museums structure was inspired by the environment and native plants of south Florida. Specifically, Herzog & de Meuronhanging were inspired by mangroves in how they are simultaneously aquatic and terrestrial. The veranda of the museum extends out to the water and is rooted on the ground just in front the bay.

The canopy of the museum continues the mangrove metaphor with the way the pillars and columns of the museum are narrow and flowing as well as in how the light is filtered. The trellis that creates the “roof” is made of slats that are more open on the north side of the building, which faces the water and that are more dense on the south side of the building where the galleries are located. The placement of this trellising helps keep the museum sustainable.

The hanging gardens are like nothing I have come across on any of my sojourns to public and private botanic gardens. These gardens consist of tropical plants that are suspended from the ceiling and were not simply installed for their aesthetic, but also for their very practical wicking effect. According the video, the core of these hanging gardens is continuously wet and as the air passes through these aerial garden columns the air in the canopy is naturally cooled. So, these beauties help to make the shaded areas of the museum much more bearable. In my previous post I mentioned that while I was in Miami the heat index was 111° , and I can honestly say that from coming from the sun to the shaded, be-gardened canopy was like night and day– still hot, but completely tolerable.

In keeping with mangroves, the building is built on stilts in the event of a storm or flood. On of the more interesting features of the building is that it is designed so that water passes straight through building. Water moves through the existing structure to maintain the hanging gardens as well as the other plants in the garage.

Next to walking through the galleries, my favorite part of my visit was descending the stairs that join the museum to Museum Park and sitting by the bay. My partner Jeffrey and I sat under the palm trees for hours watching the speed boats zip around and cruise ships leave the bay. We were there for the Fourth of July, and it would have been an awesome fireworks spot. While we didn’t get to see the fireworks from our pristine tropical spot, we managed to see them (and some lightning!) from our plane that night.

Next week’s post will be a plant baby update on cacti and succulent ailments as well as an update on my soiree into propagation. I’m currently gearing up for a week long birthday trip to New Zealand this September that will be jam packed with gardens and Tolkein-esque landscapes. So, keep an eye out on the blog and Instagram for updates!

Do you have questions about my visit to the Pérez Art Museum Miami? Are you looking to plan a trip? Or do you just have questions about your indoor and outdoor plant babies?  If you’d like to know more about my travels or if you have questions about your plant colony, leave a comment below or feel free to contact The Garden Generalist. I would love to hear from you!

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