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.
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.
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.
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 museums 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.
A pirate ship hangs suspended in midair. Tennis balls rocket toward the ceiling. Plastic robots jolt to life. Recipient of a 2008 MetLife Foundation award for promising practices, Great Explorations Children's Museum incites creativity and inventiveness from visitors of all ages with a constantly rotating lineup of interactive exhibits that fill 18,000 square feet with touch, light, and sound. Pulley towers allow children to hoist themselves into the air, and a mock fire station thrills wee visitors with a fire engine, child-sized firefighters' gear, and microscopic dalmatians. Museum guides lead lesson programs in a multidisciplinary style, though visitors can also find the friendly professionals and their orange polo shirts bouncing between exhibits while performing science experiments, dancing, and playing music.
Themed events let visitors discover the museum's potential through focuses such as "Superhero Saturday," "Slightly Spooky Boo!seum," and "Winter Wonderland," and seasonal camps explore annual topics such as the life cycle of a bunsen burner.
Practically Pikasso's multifaceted artists help customers create original pieces of jewelry and hand-painted pottery in an eclectic studio featuring a multihued checkerboard floor and small-group crafting stations. The jewelry-making session utilizes pieces of dichroic glass, which contains microscopic layers of metal oxides that appear to change colors and facial expressions when viewed from various angles. After selecting a trio of glass pieces, crafters commandeer a bench top or whorled chair to assemble a unique earrings-and-pendant set using provided tools and hardware, including an elegant black satin cord. A team of supportive employees patrols the studio, ready to assist clients with the design, assembly, and primary education of their polychromatic baubles. Practically Pikasso can accommodate walk-ins during studio hours but recommends that groups make a reservation.
Lauded by Creative Loafing for its "multi-sensory approach to historical storytelling," the Tampa Bay History Center uses its 60,000-square-foot space to display immersive exhibits on 12,000 years of Tampa history. Historically-curious visitors can browse the center's interactive exhibits, including the story theater, which tells the dramatic story of Chief Coacoochee during the Second Seminole War. Browse through artifacts from Florida’s cigar trade, including a replica of a 1920s cigar store, an ideal exhibit to take any uncles that believe they've switched bodies with Groucho Marx. A new temporary exhibit, Blue and Gray in Tampa Bay: The Civil War on Florida's Gulf Coast opens January 10, 2011, joining exhibits on cattle ranching, European exploration, and the civil rights movement.