The Vasari Project, established at Main Library in 2000 and co-funded by the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs, is a collection of printed matter and items of ephemera that document the history of art in Miami from 1945 to the present. Named for the first art historian of Western Art History, Giorgio Vasari (1474-1511), the archive preserves anything relating to, or reflecting, how the visual arts became part of our city’s cultural, social and economic life. There is enough evidence in the documentation already on hand to suggest that art was a factor in Miami’s growth from the town’s earliest strivings. Artists first came to paint the natural environment, then to enhance what settlers built and where visitors played, then to study and work here and stay. And now, as Zora Neale Hurston reminds us, “Time and place have had their say.”
There is much to be learned about Miami’s art past from so common an art world prop as an invitation to a gallery show, an exhibition poster or ad, a museum catalog, a PR release, an artist’s resume, a reprint of an art review from the newspaper, a link to a relevant web page. Such is the stuff of factual knowledge, whole stories that never leave out the where, when, who and how can be constructed from the hard evidence gleaned from those ordinary things. There are also more obvious means, glossy art books and career-building videos, oral histories, artists’ scrapbooks and sketchbooks, letters and diaries. The Vasari Project boasts all of that too. Growing all the time, the archive is an unique resource for the scholar or the plain curious, the browser or the researcher.
Initiated and managed through its first decade by former Miami Herald art critic Helen Kohen, the archive is housed in the Main Library’s Art Services Department. Currently coordinated by artist and writer Denise Delgado, the archive is accepting a broad range of materials —from printed ephemera to digital information and images— about Miami’s historic and growing visual arts community.
To bring in, send or view materials, email us for an appointment at email@example.com