Ordinarily, a building set right on the water with massive windows facing Biscayne Bay wouldn't be most people's choice for a hurricane shelter. But 14 staffers at the Perez Art Museum Miami rode out the storm in the museum's downtown venue — and they might have been some of the best protected people in town.
"PAMM fared very well in Hurricane Irma," a museum spokesperson told New Times last night. "PAMM sustained no damage to the building, and suffered no flooding. The roof held well, and there was no problem with the hurricane-resistant windows."
Because of its precarious position, the PAMM building was built with hurricanes in mind. Its massive windows were built in Germany and tested to withstand Category Five winds, and the building sits on a raised platform to protect it from storm surge. In fact, most of the museum's outdoor elements, from its public statues to its famed hanging gardens, were built sturdy enough to weather massive storms.
Additionally, the museum annually reviews its preparations. "Every spring, we fine tune our policies and procedures, and implement training so we are ready for the hurricane season,” explained CFO Mark Rosenblum in a statement.
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But the building hadn't faced a serious storm until last weekend, when Hurricane Irma barreled into town, causing rivers of storm surge in Brickell and tearing off part of the structure of the American Airlines Arena, PAMM's neighbor to the south.
But things at PAMM went mostly according to plan. Storm surge did not reach the building, the spokesperson reports, and the museum kept its power and air conditioning throughout the storm, protecting its art collection. Some plants in the hanging gardens were lost, but the structures themselves held up.
"The garage surface had some temporary pooling of water due to rain and drainage. There was some minor damage to landscaping, which is already in the process of being corrected," PAMM reports.
The museum plans to reopen Thursday, September 14, at 10 a.m., and will close at 6 p.m. if the city of Miami's 7 p.m. curfew is still in effect that night. If not, the museum will close at its usual Thursday time of 9 p.m.