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Day Trip: Tampa Museum of Art

The Tampa Museum of Art is located in revitalized downtown Tampa and is part of the Tampa Riverwalk, which includes such things as Glazer Children’s Museum, Curtis Hixon Park, and the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts.

I love the visual arts, although I am admittedly terrible at them and am unable to describe what I see using technical terms. So, if you know a lot about art and are looking for sound, technical critiques of the works found at the Tampa Museum of Art…this probably isn’t the article for you. However, I will do my best to describe my thoughts and feelings while experiencing the art.

First off, the building–


My first critical impression was that it was a rather bland building. Upon reflection, I’ve considered three things.

First, I’m reminded of the novel The Fountainhead and how the architectural protagonist, Howard Roark, refused to use traditional means in his designs because they no longer made sense given modern technology and available materials. Maybe that’s what is going on here. Second, given the no frills design it does make for a nice blank canvas to display works of art on. Third, it looks really cool at night.


The building has won a number of architectural honors, including the American Architecture Award from The Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture, which, from what I understand, is a big deal.

Moving inside there is a lobby, cafe, and ticket counter. I received an entry sticker, put it on my shirt and then I climbed the stairs to the second floor, where the collection is housed.

The first work of art I was confronted with dangled from the ceiling and was called “Kiss and Tell” by Wolfgang Flad.

Continuing on, I explored what afterwards would be my favorite exhibits: The Greek and Roman Antiquities Collection and The Classical World Collection.




There were also a number of interesting pottery pieces. To me it is incredible that these pieces can be found, a couple thousand years later, and still be intact.



There was also a mummy coffin:


One of the large halls displayed photographs of Florida landscapes and people through the years, which I found disappointing at first and then upon reflection, fascinating.

(In my experience with this museum, as a lay person looking at the modern art, I often felt this emotional pattern: disappointment/dismissiveness and then profound fascination after reflection.)

Take the below painting for example, which is by James Rosenquist, who was a part-time Floridian. (There is a whole in memoriam exhibit honoring his work).


At first, I didn’t think much of it. But then I thought about it more, like a puzzle. I feel I decoded the red tire-mark and the New York/Tampa area. I’m still figuring out the rope. And why does the green plant overlay New York and the black dots, which makes me think of pollution, underlay Tampa? Shouldn’t that be reversed? What’s going on here?!!

See, this stuff is thought provoking when you give it time.

The Tampa Museum of Art is active in the community and offers a number of interesting programs that you can check out on their website. A visit is definitely worth it, especially given its close proximity to other points of interest, such as Glazer Children’s Museum, Henry B. Plant Museum, Curtis Hixon Park, and the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts, that can be combined into a nice long day trip.

Doing it on the cheap…

I was able to attend free via Bank of America’s “Museums On Us” program, which I wrote about here.

College student get in free with a student ID.

The Art on the House program takes place every Friday evening from 4:00 pm – 10:00 pm, in which admission is pay-as-you-will.

The museum participates in the Blue Star Museum program, in which certain times of the year active duty personnel and their families get free admission (check the museum’s website for further details).

The museum participates in Fourth Friday which is a downtown Tampa celebration every 4th Friday evening, in which there is free admission to many of the downtown cultural exhibits.

If you stay at either the Aloft Tampa Downtown or the Sheraton Tampa Riverwalk hotel you get free admission.

Location: 120 W Gasparilla Plaza, Tampa, FL 33602
Admission: Adult $15.00 | Students $5.00| College Students FREE | Seniors (Ages 65+), Military, & FL Educators $7.50
Hours: Mon – Thurs, 11:00 am – 7:00pm| Fri, 11:00am – 10:00pm | Sat – Sun, 11:00 am – 5:00 pm
Phone: 813-421-8380
Website: http://tampamuseum.org/

Photo Credits: Tampa Museum of Art by Zen8r | Tampa Museums At Night by Matthew Paulson | Rest of the photos are by me (Austin Scheeringa)

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