I also visited the Wolfsonian Museum and Archive last year on my visit to Miami, and it was wonderful to extend my research on this visit to explore more in-depth archives that I had only just touched upon.
The Wolfsonian Museum, Library and Research Center is based on Miami Beach and was founded by Micky Wolfson Junior who is a collector of design ephemera, and it is a museum that explores the inventive and provocative character of the modern world. Through objects and design, they aim to reveal how the past influences the present and shapes the future.
Their very kind librarians sourced items from a few different collections I was specifically interested in. Unfortunately, due to copyright, I cannot share images of the archival items, which is a great shame as I viewed many interesting items very useful to my research.
The first items I viewed were items related to the architecture of Henry Hohauser, who was an architect from Chicago, who moved to Miami mid war due to the building boom, and designed hundreds of hotels, apartments and commercial buildings there.
I viewed his companies scrapbook of press cuttings from the mid war period which was fascinating and included drawings, photographs and interesting language that was used to describe in overly optimistic ways. I also viewed a serious of his drawings and plans for numerous buildings along Miami Beach.
Following this, I accessed the catalogue from the exhibition ’70 years of Miami Architecture’, at the Bass Museum of Art, which was written by Aristides Millar. It talks about the relatively recent architectural history of Miami Beach, and Miami (these are two different cities) and how this has changed and grown over 7 decades.
I also viewed several promotional brochures for ocean and cruise liners from the Lawrence Miller Collection, which showed the imagery and language used to promote and advertise transatlantic and more local passages on ships. Finally, I looked at a large collection of promotional brochures for Miami and nearby resorts in Florida from the mid-war period that promoted holidays and relocation to the area. A strong pull to the area was the sunshine and seaside location, and the benefit this would have on your health, in particular, offering healing if you had any chronic health conditions. The illustrations, fonts and layouts were really interesting and will definitely inform new work.
During my visits to the Wolfsonian, their new exhibition ‘Art Deco to Mass Market’ was installed which was very suitable to my research. The exhibition traces how what we now call ‘art deco’ style was first discovered by visits to the Paris Exposition in 1926, and this modern, forward-looking style was first brought to skyscrapers in Chicago and New York, then travelled south to develop into a more tropical version in Florida. The exhibition also chronicles how this style developed into mass-produced items such as crockery, furniture and textiles that were available to the masses due a lower price point.