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Miami Beach: America’s Tropical Resort

June 23, 2006 - January 14, 2007
Miami Stories

It’s June in Miami! Visitors discovered the glamorous story of Miami Beach—its transformation from a 1910 mangrove-covered sandbar into a world-famous resort city, attracting over 4 million tourists annually. Recreating that magical tourist experience, museum visitors “checked in” to a replica of a Miami Modern hotel and began their journey through the glamorous history of Miami Beach. Topics explored included the beach’s early history, public relations and advertising, transportation, hotels and motels, recreation and workers including celebrities. The advantageous climate and its impact on tourist development was the central theme of the exhibition.

Over 100 artifacts were on display, including vintage bathing suits from the late teens to the 1950s, a piece of the wooden 1913 Collins Bridge, a 1930s switchboard from the Skylark Hotel, a 1935 slot machine, a polo mallet from 1926, hotel silver and china, uniforms, swizzle sticks, matchboxes, postcards and photographs dating back to the early 1920s. Footage from the Louis Wolfson II Florida Moving Image Archive featured home videos of vacationers and promotional films.

The exhibition offered several interactive activities for families. Kids had an opportunity to see specimens of marine life such as mangrove pods, build their own Art Deco hotel puzzle, compare and contrast vintage advertisements and have their photo taken as 1956’s Miss Miami Beach. A variety of educational programs were offered in conjunction with the Miami Beach: America’s Tropical Resort exhibition. One Thursday a month from October through January, the Historical Museum hosted an evening of free cultural programming. Visitors enjoyed free, guided tours of the exhibition, along with panel discussions and live musical performances related to Miami Beach’s history and cultural traditions. Free Family Fun Days were offered every Saturday beginning September 9 through December 2 from 1 to 3 p.m., with hands-on activities for children related to the exhibition.

Organized by HistoryMiami (formerly the Historical Museum of Southern Florida).

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