The small, boxy hotels built in the 1930s on Miami Beach are known worldwide as the Art Deco District, bringing historians, architects and lovers of Americana to this 97-year-old city. They stand with their backs to the beach and their necks craned upward. They take pictures. They peer into hotel lobbies and ask questions of the desk clerks. They take tours of every description. Then they tell their friends back home and make plans to return.
But only those who live here—at least from November 3 to December 1, 2012—can get the official scoop as students of the Miami Design Preservation League’s (MDPL’s) Art Deco + MiMo Tour Guide Academy.
The course is designed for anyone who wants to know about Miami Beach’s unique architectural styles, from those Art Deco hotels to the fantastic, auto-revering hotels of the ‘50s and ‘60s known as Miami Modern, or MiMo. Over four Saturdays and 15 1/2 hours, historians, authors, architects, city officials, artists and veteran tour guides tell the Beach’s story in words and images.
Each class includes at least one walking tour. A veritable library of books about Miami Beach architecture and history are available for reference, and each student receives the Academy’s 350-page briefing book.
Students attend for the opportunity to learn from some remarkable Miami Beach experts. Those who choose to become volunteer tour guides must complete the two educational sessions, take a written “celebration of learning” and present their own tour stop. Then they shadow experienced tour guides until their mentor deems them ready to offer tours on their own.
Gina Davidson, an Academy student in 2011 who has been “using buildings to tell stories” ever since, says, “I thought I knew all about Miami Beach, but the classes and all the free tours I took as part of the Academy really opened my eyes. I met great people in class. And I love sharing my town with visitors a couple of times a month.”
If the world knows about Miami Beach’s Art Deco District, shouldn’t you?
The cost for the Art Deco + MiMo Tour Guide Academy is $80 and includes walking tours, lunches, briefing materials, an architectural guide, information about the architecture MDPL is committed to preserving, and information about Miami Beach history. To sign up, go online to http://www.mdpl.org/
The Fall 2012 session of the Art Deco + MiMo Tour Guide Academy will be held on Sat. November 3rd + 10th from 10 am – 4pm and Sat. November 17th from 2pm - 4pm at the Art Deco Welcome Center located at 1001 Ocean Drive, Miami Beach, FL. The MiMo Tour will be held December 1st from 9:30am – 11am.