Friday, April 11, 2014

Spring Is the Perfect Time to Visit Heritage Village

Florida History Comes Alive in Largo Park

There's nothing like a sunny spring day with a warm breeze to remind you why so many people came to Florida -- and stayed. A walk around Heritage Village, the Pinellas County historical park, gives you a visceral feeling for the reasons pioneers decided to settle in the Tampa Bay area.

McMullen House at Heritage Village
McMullen House at Heritage Village

This 21-acre living history museum includes almost every kind of building from turn of the century Florida, all moved to the park from their original locations around the county. Several are important to local history, including the McMullen House, built in 1868, the oldest continuously-occupied home in Pinellas County, and the McMullen-Coachman Log Cabin, circa 1852, the oldest existing structure in the county.

House of Seven Gables at Heritage Village
House of Seven Gables at Heritage Village

You can walk through most of the buildings and view first hand how the early residents of Florida spent their days. Two of the houses, the House of Seven Gables (1907) and the Walsingham House (1915) are completely furnished and viewed with a docent-guided tour.

Moore Farm House at Heritage Village
Moore Farm House at Heritage Village

More of everyday life in the early 20th Century is on display at the Lowe House (1888) and Barn (1911-12) with boiling shed, sugar cane mill and smokehouse, and the Moore House with small garden, water tower, windmill and two Depression-era hothouses.

H. C. Smith Store at Heritage Village
H.C. Smith Store at Heritage Village

On the business side of things are the H.C. Smith Store (1915), a fully furnished neighborhood store with a barbershop up front and an auto service garage out back, and the Sulphur Springs Depot (1924), a typical small-town train station. And these are just the most notable of nearly two dozen buildings you can tour on your own plus an exhibit hall that tells the story of the growth of Pinellas County.

Caboose outside Sulphur Springs Depot at Heritage Village
All photos (c) R.F. Abercrombie ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

For a fun and educational walk on a beautiful spring day, you can't do much better than a stroll around Heritage Village in much the same way as the original inhabitants did. The park is open Wednesday through Sunday except county holidays and admission is free. If you feel like continuing your trip, just north of the park is the Florida Botanical Gardens. When you're done, you'll have some new reasons to stay in the Sunshine State.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Don't Miss the Warhol Exhibit at the Dali Museum

"Warhol: Art. Fame. Mortality." through April 27, 2014

If you still haven't made it to the Dali Museum for the impressive Andy Warhol
exhibit, you'd better "pop" on over. Closing on Sunday, April 27, this show
The author poses with a cardboard cutout of Andy Warholprovides an excellent overview of Warhol's career and his connections to Dali. Included are a sampling of Polaroids of Warhol with various other celebrities, paintings and drawings, the famous Heinz Tomato Ketchup Boxes, early films, and much more.

Other events include two documentaries on Warhol's life and art, three Warhol films ("Space," "Camp" and "Lonesome Cowboys") and two lectures on Warhol's methods of creating art. Check dates and times here.

Don't wait. Make the scene like I did. You might even make a new friend!

Photo (c) D.G. Brinkerhoff  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Make Your Own Art with Art Classes at Tampa Bay Museums

Sure, art museums help you appreciate the works they exhibit but they also help create the next generation of artists, no matter how old you are. Here is a sampling of art classes at local museums in the Tampa Bay area. Always call ahead for days and times; special events cause schedule changes and cancellations.

Tampa Museum of Art

"Art Spot"  Every Saturday from 11am to 2pm
Children drop-in to create an art project around monthly themes based on current exhibits. No registration required.

Florida Museum of Photographic Arts in Tampa

FMoPA offers photography workshops, photo safaris and camps on a regular basis for adults and children. You can check them out here.

Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg

"MFA: Make & Take"  1st and 3rd Saturday of the month from 11am to 2pm
Children ages 5 and up create art based on works in the museum. Supplies included. Free with Museum admission.  No registration required.

The Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg

"Dillydally with Dali"  Every Saturday from 11:45am to 4:30pm
Children and their families create arts and crafts based on Dali's works in the Education Classroom. Free admission to the First Floor. No registration required.

Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art in Tarpon Springs

"Leap into Art"  Second Thursday of the month at 4:30pm
Children and their families listen to a story about modern art and create art based on the story. Children admitted free.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Is There a Museum Renaissance in Tampa Bay?


If it is true that great cities must have great museums and that museums are the soul of a city, does that mean Tampa Bay is on its way to cultural greatness?

Consider this: In the past seven years, Tampa Bay has added or expanded seven
museums. Since the new wing on the Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg in
2008, almost every year has seen a major change in location or venue in at
least one museum that could be seen as an improvement.

Tampa Finally Gets Its Museum Act Together

In 2009, Tampa Bay History Center found a permanent home in Tampa's
Channelside district that became a historical museum of not only Tampa Bay
but Florida and the nation as well.

Tampa Museum of Art, after years of wrangling, finally found a new location
in an stunning new building in 2010, joined by The Glazer Children's Museum
in a park on the banks of the Hillsborough River in downtown Tampa.

More Positive Changes in St. Petersburg

The same year saw the opening of The Chihuly Collection in downtown St.
Petersburg across the street from the Museum of Fine Arts. Although
technically more gallery than museum, it is one of very few "one artist"
venues in the U.S. In 2011, also in St. Petersburg, the Salvador Dali Museum
re-located to its new building that is as iconoclastic as its namesake. It is
the second museum in the Tampa Bay area that is dedicated to a single artist.

The Florida Museum of Photographic Arts settled into its new quarters in the
atrium building known as "the Cube" in downtown Tampa in 2012.

Re-Birth of a Collection

But bad things even happen to good museums. After the 2009 closing of the
much-missed Gulf Coast Museum of Art in Largo, its collection of contemporary
art first migrated to Florida International Museum, the home of so-called
"blockbuster" exhibitions and associated with St. Petersburg College, until
it too failed in 2010. Fortunately, the collection finally landed at the
Leepa-Rattner Museum on the Tarpon Springs campus of St. Petersburg College
in 2011.

And perhaps that rescue of an established collection shows most clearly that,
culturally, Tampa Bay has a "soul."

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Tampa Bay Museums Feature Discounts and Special Pricing

You don't have to break into the piggy bank to enjoy Tampa Bay area museums and attractions. In fact, many museums offer reduced admission to their exhibits and collections. Here's a listing of reduced admission by group and special days. Remember to always call ahead for current hours and prices.

Tampa Museum of Art
Reduced admission for seniors, children and active duty military. Reduced admission Fridays after 4 pm.

Glazer Children's Museum
Reduced admission for seniors, children and active duty military. Children under 1 admitted free.

Tampa History Center
Reduced admission for seniors, students with ID, children and active duty military and their families with ID. Children 3 and under admitted free.

Henry B. Plant Museum
Reduced admission for seniors, students and children.
Special pricing for the December Victorian Christmas Stroll.

The Florida Aquarium
Reduced admission for seniors (60 and older) and children. Children 2 and under admitted free.

Florida Museum of Photographic Art
Reduced admission for seniors, students and active duty military.