Like most major metropolitan areas, Tampa boasts no shortage of museums. They come in all sizes here, with wonderfully diverse looks at the area’s past, present and future.
Lets start with the four big Tampa museums. It’s worth the time, effort and yes, parking fun, to experience them. So map out a morning, afternoon or even a day to test your learning curve at Tampa’s four signature museums.
Glazer Children’s Museum
It’s a very imaginative place to play! There are 21 exhibits that take kids through active scenarios. Examples include learning how a drop of water travels through Tampa Bay’s own watershed, or learning about electronic gadgets in the Glazer’s robotics lab. The three-level museum also contains a classroom.
A nice offering is bi-monthly Sunshine Sundays. The building’s audio and lighting is re-calibrated for special-needs children, with programs offered just for them.
opens in a new windowThe Glazer is located in downtown Tampa near the Riverwalk and Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park. You can’t miss the white building with its cheerful red, green, yellow and black signage and design.
Tampa Bay History Center
In the Channelside District, three floors of permanent exhibits tell the story of the Tampa Bay area. opens in a new windowThe History Center showcases Tampa history beginning 500 years ago. It also hosts seasonal special exhibits. Recent ones detailed a treasure trove of historic maps and the importance of nature conservation — plus history-themed camps for kids and annual events.
One of the Center’s newer changing exhibits — Treasure Seekers — is a fascinating look at conquistadors, pirates and shipwrecks from centuries past. You’ll find many artifacts that date to the 17th century, such as pottery and a ship’s bell, plus an 18th-century iron cannon.
The Columbia Cafe, a yummy outpost of the original Columbia Restaurant (Florida’s oldest) located in Tampa’s historic Ybor City district may be one of the best parts of The History Center. Refuel with some authentic Latin cuisine.
Tampa Museum of Art
Looking for a “proper” museum? This is it, but with a fun, contemporary kick. You’ll be wowed over modern sculpture, photography and other cutting-edge mediums as well as the prodigious collection of Greek and Roman antiquities. This collection is considered one of the nicest in the southeast. There’s also a busy menu of changing exhibits that range from the deeply historic to fun pop art.
Don’t miss “Sky,” a 14,000-foot LED light extravaganza by artist Leo Villareal. It glows on the museum’s south facade and has become one of Tampa’s signature photo opportunities.
You will find the opens in a new windowThe Museum of Art located in downtown Tampa, along the Riverwalk.
Museum of Science and Industry
opens in a new windowThe Museum of Science Industry, is known as just “MOSI” by the locals. All ages can have an awesome time here, but this is another great place for children for learn while having fun. Interactive is the byword, from deciding how to tackle playgrounds composed of giant, moveable foam blocks, to learning how a driverless vehicle works.
Kids and adults can sample more than 100 exhibits. Outside is MOSI’s Sky Trail Ropes Course and a zipline course. Inside is the Saunders Planetarium. The museum also offers summer camps and community events.
“MOSI” is on Fowler Avenue, across from the University of South Florida campus, north of downtown Tampa.
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