The Art and History Museums of St. Petersburg, Florida

The Museum of Fine Arts on Beach Drive in downtown St. Petersburg, Florida

St. Petersburg went beyond my original expectations when it came to their food and drink culture. I was even more impressed when I realized St. Pete offered other cultural things to do such as the opportunity to view amazing museum collections. The museums which feature Salvador Dali and Dale Chihuly each house a world renowned collection of work from the respective Spanish Surrealist and American glass sculptor. The Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) is an excellent survey of the world history of art. The St. Petersburg Museum of History focuses on local history including the history baseball while another local museum focuses on the history of the Holocaust.

The Dali Museum

The architect of the Dali Museum integrated the feel of Surrealist into the exterior of the buildingThe Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, FL has an awesome building exterior. The architectural style immediately recalls Salvador Dali’s Surrealist art for which he is so famous. Aside from a museum in the artist’s hometown in Spain, The Dali Museum in St. Pete houses the largest collection of works from the Spanish Master of Surrealism. The collection spans the artist’s entire career and includes 96 oil paintings including one of my top ten favorites: “Gala Contemplating the Mediterranean Sea” which doubles as a portrait of Abraham Lincoln when the painting is viewed from more than 20 feet away.

The Dali Museum is open daily from 10AM until 5:30PM with extended hours till 8PM on Thursdays. An adult admission is $24 with a reduced admission of $10 after 5PM on Thursdays. While parking is $10 in the lot adjacent to the museum, there is often parking available on the nearby streets for free or in nearby lots for $1 per hour.

Museum of Fine Arts (MFA)

A Sculpture of Mercury among 18th century portraits at the Museum of Fine Art

The Museum of Fine Art in St. Petersburg has some impressive objects in their collection spanning the history of art from Classical Antiquity thru the 20 th century. While the permanent collection isn’t vast, you can tell the curator took extra care in acquiring the objects they do have. I was particular impressed with the contemporary portrait of Roman Emperor Augustus as well as the 10 or so vessels from Ancient Greece. There are other notable works from 19 th century European masters such as Renoir, Morisot, Cezanne, Monet, and Gauguin along with works from 20 th century American masters such as O’Keefe, de Kooning, and Bellows.

The Museum of Fine Arts in St. Pete opens daily at 10AM (noon on Sunday) and closes at 5PM with extended hours until 8PM on Thursdays. An adult admission is $17 and only $5 after 5PM on Thursdays. There is public parking on 2 nd Ave. NE in the Beach Drive Parking Lot which is located on the pier.

The Chihuly Collection

Exterior of Chihuly Collection building in St. Petersburg, FloridaThe Chihuly Collection in St. Petersburg recently moved from Beach Ave. to their new location at 720 Central Avenue. Glass sculptures by Dale Chihuly exist in most Florida art museums as well as many other museums across the country. Chihuly’s works are usually commissioned taking into account the specific gallery or space where the work is to be installed. A good example of this is the “Fiori di Como,” the ceiling installation at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. In the case of the Chihuly Collection in St. Pete, they recently did the opposite to achieve the same end result. They designed and built the museum and its galleries based on the collection that they already owned.

The Chihuly Collection opens daily at 10AM (noon on Sunday) and closes at 5PM. Admission is $19.95 and since it is operated by the Morean Arts Center, you can also visit their other locations in St. Petersburg including the Morean Galleries, Center for Clay, and Glass Studio & Hot Shop.

The Florida Holocaust Museum

The Florida Holocaust Museum off of Central Avenue in St. PetersburgThe Florida Holocaust Museum in St. Pete has a permanent collection that chronicles the history of the Holocaust beginning with antisemitism before World War II to the rise of Hitler and the creation of anti-Jewish legislation in Germany. The museum also has temporary exhibitions profiling local survivors through contemporary objects from the Holocaust such as photos, letters, and personal effects. Other temporary exhibitions feature modern artists who present a depiction of the Holocaust in their own medium or from their own perspective.

The Florida Holocaust Museum in St. Petersburg is open daily from 10AM to 5PM and has a regular adult admission of $16. The museum has onsite parking as well as metered parking on nearby streets.

The St. Petersburg Museum of History

The St. Petersburg Museum of History now features a permanent baseball exhibitionThe St. Petersburg Museum of History is located on the Pier in downtown St. Petersburg. The museum has had various temporary and permanent exhibits focusing on the history of St. Petersburg and Pinellas County. A highlight of the museum is Shrader’s Little Cooperstown. This recently opened exhibition connects historical events in baseball with the region highlighting Tampa Bay’s 100 plus years as a spring training destination. The new baseball exhibition also includes the largest private collection of autographed baseballs in the world.

The St. Petersburg Museum of History is open daily from 10AM (noon on Sunday) to 5PM and has a regular adult admission of $15. There is onsite parking behind the museum as well as public parking in the Beach Drive Parking Lot which is also located on the pier just past the museum entrance.

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