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The Top Tampa Bay Museums

Explore Tampa Bay's Top Museums - Culture, Art, & History

The Tampa Bay area boasts many different kinds of museums. Each offer something worthwhile to see on a variety of subjects. We compiled a list of the top Tampa Bay museums that will add a bit of culture to your next outing.

Here are some of the best museums in the area, all worthy of a visit. That’s especially true in the midst of a hot summer. Visiting a museum allows you to the beat the heat for a few hours while also getting exposed to some fascinating culture.

Tampa Bay History Center, Tampa

Located in downtown Tampa, the history center is gem, with tons of information, photos and displays on the unique history of the Tampa Bay area. Permanent exhibits include several on the Tocobaga, Calusa, Seminole and Miccosukee tribes that first inhabited the area.  It also boasts the experiences of Chief Coacoochee during the Second Seminole War. Additionally, there are two exhibits on European’s first landings in the area and later exploration.  Don’t forget the “Cigar City” exhibit on Tampa’s cigar industry that includes a large collection of cigar memorabilia.

Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg

This excellent museum is located in the bustling downtown area along Beach Drive in St. Petersburg. It is a perfect location between the waters of Tampa Bay and Beach Drive’s restaurants and shops. A beautiful building in its own right, the museum contains art and artifacts that represent 5,000 years of culture and civilization. Artists in the permanent collection include Monet, Gauguin, Renoir, Morisot and Cezanne, among many others. The museum also houses Native American, Roman, Asian, African and pre-Columbian art and artifacts.

Florida Railroad Museum, Parrish

This museum, located near Interstate 75 north of Sarasota, offers visitors a chance not only to see historic trains, but also to ride them. The museum features history on the train lines in the Sunshine State. The exhibits focus primarily on the Plant Line, started by Henry Plant, and the Seaboard Air Line Railway. The museum offers roundtrip journeys of about 13 miles on former Seaboard Air Line track, as well as the chance to learn how to drive a locomotive.

Chihuly Collection. St. Petersburg

Now located on Beach Drive in St. Petersburg, this museum is expected to move in the fall of 2016 to a new location on Central Avenue across from the Morean Arts Center, which owns the collection. The famous glass artist has many of his signature works at the museum, including Ruby Red Icicle Chandelier, Ikebana and Niijima Floats. Note that the museum will close in August for the move to the new location.

The Dali Museum, St. Petersburg

The Dali Museum is completely dedicated to the artwork of modern artist Salvador Dali. The museum houses the most extensive collection of Dali’s work outside of Europe. It also features rotating temporary exhibits that typically showcase other modern artists. The museum is located on Dali Drive, just north of the Beach Drive area.

John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota

Located on the former estate of John and Mable Ringling, the museum is part of an area that also includes the couple’s mansion, Ca d’Zan, as well as a circus museum and a theater. The art museum has perhaps the most extensive collection of art in the Tampa Bay area, including a large collection of work by Peter Paul Rubens.  The collection is split into European and American art as well as modern and contemporary art. There is also a large sculpture garden in the courtyard between the main buildings of the museum. The building itself, opened to the public in 1931, is a marvel.

Discovering Innovation at MOSI

Tampa Bay’s Museum of Science & Industry (MOSI) offers a hands-on approach to science and technology, making it a fascinating destination for visitors of all ages. Explore interactive exhibits, marvel at the stars in the planetarium, or challenge yourself in the ropes course. MOSI provides a unique blend of education and fun, showcasing the wonders of space, robotics, and human invention. It’s a place where curiosity is ignited, encouraging a deeper appreciation for the marvels of the scientific world.

As you explore the cultural jewels of Tampa Bay, each museum visit promises a unique adventure into the realms of art, history, and science. Embrace the opportunity to enrich your understanding and appreciation of the diverse tapestry that makes up this vibrant community.

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