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, exploring arachnids in the Critter Cave, or playing instruments in the Musical Magical Treehouse, kids benefit from each exhibit's emphasis on interactivity. 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.
In addition to visiting the museum's permanent exhibits, kids can also 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.
In the middle of Saint Petersburg surrounded by tall buildings and shopping malls lies a 100-year-old oasis of waterfalls and lush plant life. Sunken Gardens, one of the city’s oldest living museums, surrounds visitors with a thriving ecosystem of more than 50,000 tropical plants and flowers. Winding paths lead explorers around rivers and ponds filled with fish and turtles. Flamingos walk the banks as passersby spy parrots and admire butterflies gliding from flower to flower. The tranquil gardens also host educational events and daily yoga sessions that help ease stress generated by everyday lives and not being able to touch your left elbow with your left hand.
From tie-dye ($35 per child) to garden-themed parties ($25), Pikasso's children's classes fresh-squeeze creative juices for the grade-school set. During a feet-print-platter class ($45 per child), kids create an adorable plate marked with their footprints. Adults can hone painterly techniques at clay, fused glass, or wire-wrapping and beaded-jewelry classes. Wheel-thrown pottery classes, taught by an expert potter, are available at $50 per person for a two-hour session (two-student minimum). Offsite events and parties add color to corporate events, birthdays, and home fumigations, and Practically Pikasso can supply 20–200 painters with supplies, helpful staff, and instruction (call ahead to inquire about costs).
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.
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.
Classical, opera, and popular orchestral compositions make up the repertoire of the Southwest Florida Symphony, which has made quality programming its mission since 1961. Aiming to make music accessible to all, the symphony visits schools, offers scholarships, books youth-friendly concerts, and provides a friendly First-Timer’s Guide for new audience members unfamiliar with the proper way of applauding.