Museums in Clearwater

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Spread across 50,000 square feet, the Armed Forces History Museum's collection boasts rare military vehicles, re-creations of historic battlefields, and artifacts with a militaristic purview that spans from WWI through current conflicts. Smoke machines and battlefield sound effects simulate the fog of war in a replica WWI trench and a Japanese battleship flight deck. A motion-simulation theater hydraulically emulates pitch and yaw as passengers' eyes alight with scenes from the Battle of Iwo Jima or Operation Desert Storm.

In the open terrain behind the museum, a fully functional WWII-era M8 armored vehicle seats four passengers in its turret and open-air compartments as it rumbles off-road for a quick thrill ride.

2050 34th Way
Largo,
FL
US

The Experience

Inside a building in St. Petersburg, works of art from around the world gather like good friends. Georgia O'Keeffe's Poppy hangs not far from Paul Cézanne's A Corner of the Woods, Pointoise. Claude Monet's Houses of Parliament gives a glimpse of faraway lands, while Thomas Moran's Florida Landscape stays closer to home.

With a range of permanent and rotating exhibitions, the Museum of Fine Arts seeks to engage visitors with art while preserving the pieces in its care. Much of the collection resides in an original 1960s building, but an adjacent modern gallery draws in visitors with special exhibitions, an art library, and interactive educational facilities—ensuring they have plenty of ways to experience art or at least overcome a fear of informational plaques.

The Highlights

  • Permanent collection houses pieces from Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas, as well as classical and modern American art
  • Daily events include docent-led tours, hands-on workshops, classical concerts, and lectures
  • MFA Café overlooks the waterfront

Who They Are

Even before the Museum of Fine Arts opened to the public in 1965, founder Margaret Acheson Stuart saw its galleries as a space where diverse audiences could explore art "from antiquity to the present." Architect John Volk had designed the original museum wing to instill visitors with a feeling of solidness and permanence. Decades later, the museum sought to expand, and conducted a nationwide search for a worthy architect. They were rewarded with designer Yann Weymouth, who completed a second building in 2008—a two-story, modern glass conservatory.

255 Beach Dr NE
Saint Petersburg,
FL
US

Since opening in 1987, Great Explorations Children's Museum has sparked a love for learning for visitors of all ages with a constantly rotating lineup of interactive exhibits that fill 18,000 square feet with touch, light, and sound. Whether they're learning about nearby sea life at Beth's Beach, honing their knowledge of textures on a crawl through the Touch Tunnel, or exploring arachnids in the Critter Cave, kids benefit from each exhibit's emphasis on interactivity. Visitors can find friendly professionals and their orange polo shirts bouncing between exhibits while performing science experiments, dancing, and playing music.

In addition to visiting the museum's permanent exhibits, kids can also take extend their learning journeys through the museum's lengthy list of camps and programs. The museum even takes its show on the road, with the Express Yourself Art Mobile bringing creative craft opportunities to neighborhoods around St. Petersburg.

1925 4th St N
Saint Petersburg,
FL
US

Since 1922, St. Petersburg Museum of History has preserved the heritage of St. Petersburg and the Pinellas Peninsula with expansive collections and four galleries that host annually rotating exhibits. Its permanent exhibits, meanwhile, trace the area’s history from Native Americans to the present day through artifacts such as a cannonball fired by Union sailors and replica of a parlor car from the Orange Belt Railway. Elsewhere, the World's First Commercial Airline Gallery charts commercial aviation history with a full-size working replica of the Benoist Airboat and the first-ever pterodactyl to earn a commercial-flying license. Visitors looking to delve deeper into the past can explore more than 32,000 artifacts in the museum archives or partake in one of its educational programs such as tours, community classes, and camps.

335 2nd Ave NE
Saint Petersburg,
FL
US

The Florida Holocaust Museum, located in the heart of St. Petersburg's museum and art district, was founded in 1992 with the help of prominent Holocaust scholars such as Schindler's List author Thomas Keneally. The museum's three floors feature permanent exhibitions, a library, and smaller rotating exhibits. Housed on the museum's first floor is the core exhibition, History, Heritage and Hope, which documents the Holocaust through recollections of survivors and original artifacts, including Boxcar #113 069-5??one of the few remaining Nazi railroad boxcars. The third floor is home to the museum's other permanent exhibition, Kaddish in Wood: Woodcarvings by Dr. Herbert Savel, showcasing his woodcarvings of French children who perished during the Holocaust.

A leading force for change in the community and beyond, part of the museum's mission is to spread its message of tolerance by continuously collecting and displaying contemporary artistic responses to the Holocaust and other genocides. Their hope is to educate and inspire visitors to learn from the past in order to be the upstanders of today. The museum makes Kadish in Wood??as well as 18 other traveling exhibitions??available to museums, historical societies, and community centers nationwide. From scholars reading their latest work to survivors discussing their experiences, the museum's events also shed light on the past in an effort to prevent future genocide.

55 5th St. S
Saint Petersburg,
FL
US

Photography is ubiquitous in contemporary life and culture. The founders of the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts recognized this fact, so they sought to create a setting where visitors from all walks of life could appreciate and experience photography. As one of the few photography museums in the country, FMoPA presents exhibitions, which exclusively use this medium to explore themes that expose some intriguing or exciting aspect of history or modern, everyday life. This focus allows the museum to prominently feature pieces that other art institutions might not necessarily show, such as works of photojournalism or historic photographs.

In addition to scheduling upcoming exhibitions, FMoPA also includes a permanent collection. The collection aims to preserve particularly important images, such as those of various masters of the medium, including Harold Edgerton, Clyde Butcher, Hans Silvester, and Berenice Abbott.

After studying the museum's exhibitions?which can include images culled from national and international sources?guests can step behind the camera themselves during photography workshops for students of all skill levels. Then, budding photographers can display their latest shots at 15 Minutes of Fame, a showcase where up to six presenters exhibit and discuss their original work. They also host a photography group, the Photo League, for those photographers that want to share tips and helpful hints once a month.

400 N. Ashley Drive, Cube 200
Tampa,
FL
US