Best Permanent Exhibits In Tampa Bay

July 15, 2013 8:00 AM

File photo of art work. (Photo credit VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images)

Museums have the wonderful ability to educate us, entertain us and empower us. Tampa Bay’s rich cultural heritage means there are plenty of museums to choose from, including history museums, art museums and science museums. If you’re new to the Tampa Bay area or new to exploring museums, try starting with some of these incredible permanent exhibits.

Salvador Dali Museum
1 Dali Blvd.
St. Petersburg, FL 33701
(727) 823-3767

Even for those with only a fleeting interest in art, the Dali Museum is an incredible experience. Its architectural design is simply breath-taking, with museum-goers encouraging others to “go when it’s raining” to truly get the most of the sights and sounds offered by the building’s design. The massive collection of surrealist art is impressive on its own, but explanatory wall plaques adorn the halls to let admirers in on Dali’s little secrets, such as the hidden silhouette of a father and son in every painting. The museum also hosts regular community-based events to attract local artists and art lovers alike, such as the Dali look-alike contest, benefit dinners, kids’ camps, wine tastings and more. While the events are ever-changing, the art collection is permanent, so you can immerse yourself in Dali’s world again and again.

St. Petersburg Museum of History
335 2nd Ave. N.E.
St. Petersburg, FL 33701
(727) 894-1052

This 90-year-old museum is one of St. Petersburg’s gems — a source of pride in the city’s culture and history. The museum houses several permanent exhibits, including the city’s archives, historic photos, a Megalethoscope and a parlor car used on the Orange Belt Railway. Its signature exhibit, however, is The World’s First Airline Gallery. It traces the history of commercial aviation from its inception of January 1, 1914 to the present, and features a full-size working replica of the Benoist Airboat.

Glazer Children’s Museum
110 W. Gasparilla Plaza
Tampa, FL 33602
(813) 443-3861

If you have children in elementary school, you simply must visit the Glazer Children’s Museum. With over 170 interactive exhibits aimed to teach children while they play, it will open their young minds to the natural wonders of science and nature. It might even change their minds about what they want to be when they grow up. Being a basketball star might not seem quite as cool after they get to pilot a cruise ship, fly an airplane, build a house or examine x-rays in a veterinary clinic. After an action-packed day of exploring, learning and playing, visit the Play 2 Go shop to bring some of the fun home. While there are some rotating exhibits and activities, many of the exhibits are permanent, giving your child endless opportunities to grow and explore without ever leaving Tampa Bay.

Related:  Best Exhibits To Visit This Summer In Tampa

Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI)
4801 E. Fowler Avenue
Tampa, FL 33617
(813) 987-6000

MOSI is known for its appeal to elementary school-aged children, but it has plenty of permanent attractions for tweens, teens and adults as well. For kids, it boasts the “Mission: Moonbase” exhibit and “Kids in Charge!” exhibits, which offer fun and educational opportunities for children to learn about physics, friction, engineering and outer space. MOSI is also home to a beautiful butterfly garden, the Saunders Planetarium, an IMAX Dome Theater and much more. With over 400,000 square feet of permanent exhibits, MOSI has something for everyone.

American Victory Ship
705 Channelside Drive
Tampa, FL 33602
(813) 228-8766

The “S.S. American Victory” is a real piece of living history — a war ship that dates all the way back to 1945. After serving her time in the Second World War, the Korean War and the Vietnam War, she was restored to the tune of $2.5 million and permanently docked in the Channelside District. Visitors can step back in time to the 1940s and tour cargo holds, radio and gyro rooms, the wheelhouse, crew cabins and other parts of the ship. There are also carefully preserved photographs, uniforms, medals, documents and naval equipment on display for viewing.

Related: Best 2013 Museum Exhibitions To Look Forward To In Tampa Bay

Amanda Mole has been writing since she was old enough to hold a pencil and cooking since she was tall enough to reach the stove. She believes that food provides more than just vital nutrients: it is an irreplaceable part of countless cultural and social activities. As a Tampa Bay resident for the past 21 years, she is well acquainted with the incredibly diverse range of restaurants, bars, and food festivals that the area has to offer. Her work can be found at

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