In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, which caused catastrophic flooding as it swept through the Gulf Coast last week, Florida is bracing for Hurricane Irma, one of the most powerful Atlantic storms ever recorded. The category-five hurricane with winds of 185-miles-per-hour already struck Barbuda and St. Martin, causing widespread damage, and will move towards Florida this weekend.
As President Trump declared a state of emergency in Puerto Rico, Florida, and the United States Virgin Islands on Tuesday, arts institutions across the Sunshine State prepared to weather the storm. The mayors of Miami Beach city and Miami-Dade have already urged residents to evacuate and a number of museums have decided to close their doors today. The Perez Art Museum Miami, the Wolfsonian, the Institute of Contemporary Art Miami, the Margulies at the Warehouse, Dimensions Variable, the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, and Faena Art are among the cultural venues that shut their doors and have announced that they will remain closed through the weekend. All public programs and other events scheduled to take place during this time have been canceled.
“Safety and security are top priorities at PAMM, and storm preparation is something we focus on year-round,” Perez’s CFO Mark Rosenblum told the Art Newspaper. “We are being very proactive in preparing the exterior and interior of the museum to make sure the art, facility, and surrounding areas are secure.” A spokeswoman added that museum is also working to deinstall “as much work as possible” starting with the more delicate objects. In anticipation of Irma, the Bass Museum also deinstalled its thirty-foot-long Sylvie Fleury sculpture titled Eternity Now, 2015.
Irma is currently barreling towards Puerto Rico, which is preparing for flooding and fifty-mile-per-hour winds. Yetzenia Y. Álvarez, a spokesperson for the Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico, located outside of San Juan, told Artnews that it had activated its emergency plan on Monday. “Micro-climates were sealed in secured galleries and artworks that could be in danger were relocated to safer spaces,” Álvarez said. “All steps of the emergency plan have been properly followed, hoping that no major damage will occur and that we fully protect the heritage that we hold at the MAPR.”
According to the New York Times, after battering the eastern Caribbean today, Irma caused at least two deaths. President Emmanuel Macron of France said that the extent of the damage on the islands of St. Martin and St. Barthélemy is “considerable,” and that the days following the hurricane will be “harsh and cruel.”