Founded in 1920, the Tampa Museum of Art inspires visitors with engaging exhibitions and innovative educational programs that emphasize ancient, modern, and contemporary art. The Museum houses one of the largest Greek and Roman antiquities collections in the southeastern United States. As one of the region’s most prominent museums devoted to the art of our time, the Museum’s permanent collection also embraces sculpture, photography, painting, new media, and more.
With a 14,000 square-foot LED installation of Leo Villareal’s Sky (Tampa) illuminating the south façade and the Museum’s 23-foot tall cast iron sculpture Laura with Bun by Jaume Plensa silhouetted in front of the north façade, the Tampa Museum of Art stands as an iconic landmark of downtown Tampa.
The Museum’s new Vinik Family Education Center offers expanded year-round studio art classes, lectures, and tours that allow children, teens, and adults to discover new perspectives and learn different art-making techniques. Likewise, through unique community partnerships, the Museum offers outreach programs that provide art-therapy-informed interventions and meaningful modes of self-expression to vulnerable segments of the population.
Located in the heart of downtown Tampa, the Tampa Museum of Art leads as both a cultural institution and a community museum dedicated to celebrating its home city’s diversity. In 2021, the Museum embarked on an ambitious renovation and expansion to increase exhibition space and education facilities to accommodate growing community partnerships and allow more hands-on, up-close experiences for students and adults. The renovated spaces opened in 2022 and the Museum continues campaigning for its 51,000 sq. ft. expansion plan.
Mission & Vision
The Tampa Museum of Art collects, preserves, studies, and exhibits iconic and important works of art to educate, engage, and inspire the residents of our region and others around the world.
Brief History of the Tampa Museum of Art
In 2020, the Tampa Museum of Art celebrated its 100th Anniversary, finding its historical roots in the community as the Tampa Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) in 1920. In 1923, the Tampa Art Institute emerged after a consolidation of the exhibition gallery efforts of the Tampa MFA and the studio art programs of the Student Arts Club. The Tampa Art Institute, which presented both exhibitions and studio art education programs, would remain active until 1967. In that year, the Tampa Art Institute reorganized itself as the Tampa Bay Art Center on the campus of the University of Tampa and would remain the region’s cultural resource for ten years alongside the Tampa Junior Museum, founded in 1958.
In 1977, the underpinnings of the Tampa Museum of Art were established as the result of cooperation among art organizations, private citizens and city government. The City of Tampa reached out to the Tampa Bay Art Center and the Tampa Junior Museum and requested they merge under a municipal operation as the Tampa Museum. In 1979 the museum opened to the public as the Tampa Museum Federation in a building funded by the City of Tampa. The museum was a joint venture of the City of Tampa, responsible for physical plant, operations and administration, security, and maintenance. The 501c3 Tampa Museum of Art owned the collections and was responsible for fundraising and programmatic oversight for exhibitions, programs, and acquisitions. Seven years later, in 1986, the name of the museum changed to the Tampa Museum of Art, the name of the support organization.
Over these early years, the purpose and direction of the museum became more focused. The museum acquired the Joseph Veach Noble Collection of Greek vases and two strong collections and exhibition focuses emerged in Antiquities and Contemporary art. To accommodate the growth of the collection and expanding the programming and staff, two additions to the building were accomplished. After modest additions to the Tampa Museum of Art in 1990 and 1994, the support Board in collaboration with the City decided to expand and relocate its facility. Discussions regarding this new building program began in 2000.
In 2006, the City and TMA’s Board of Trustees selected architect Stanley Saitowitz to build a new 66,000 square foot facility – Phase I of a two-phase program – on a new site in Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park. In December 2007, the Museum relocated to interim quarters in Tampa and construction began in April 2008. The Tampa Museum of Art in 2009 then reorganized as a private and independent 501c3 and opened to the public on February 6, 2010. Today, the Tampa Museum of Art Board of Trustees governs the facility and all responsibilities regarding the Museum.
- On August 18, 1920, a public meeting is held to “help develop prospects for the artistic future of Tampa.” (Tribune)
- The Tampa Museum of Fine Arts was organized “for the purpose of promoting an art museum for the City of Tampa and vicinity where can be gathered in time a permanent collection of paintings, sculpture and objects of artist merit, to be a means of bringing to Tampa traveling exhibits of approved worth…Tampa has reached that stage of cityhood which calls for important achievements in fine arts and this organization…proposes to supply that need.” (Tribune, November 21, 1920).
- On November 22, 1920, the Tampa Museum of Fine Arts holds its first exhibit at 8 p.m. in the Red Cross room on the second floor of City Hall.
- The Tampa Museum of Fine Arts reorganizes as the Tampa Art Institute, combining the Tampa Museum of Fine Arts and the Students’ Art Club.
- The Art Institute begins holding its exhibits in Tampa’s new Municipal Auditorium, now part of the University of Tampa.
- The Students’ Art Club throws the first Beaux Arts Ball, an annual fundraiser for the Tampa Art Institute.
- The Tampa Art Institute begins exhibiting in the Art Building at the South Florida Fair, now part of the University of Tampa.
- In January, The Tampa Civic Art Commission postponed the Beaux Arts Ball indefinitely because of World War II. The balls resumed in 1951.
- The Tampa Art Institute moves to a home of its own, a building on the Florida State Fairgrounds at 320 North Boulevard, which in present-day is now the Scarfone/Hartley Gallery at the University of Tampa.
- Elementary school teachers begin efforts to organize a Junior Museum.
- In the spring of 1963, the Tampa Junior Museum, Inc. was chartered and held its first annual meeting.
- In May 1964, the Tampa Art Institute hires its first professional full-time director, Russel “Rusty” Hicken. Barbara Romano is hired as Hicken’s secretary. With Hatty Lenfestey as curator of education, they constitute TAI’s entire staff of three.
- In the summer of 1964, Hatty Lenfesty and Mickey Banks lead the formation of the Docents volunteer organization.
- In March 1965, Lee Leavengood forms the Guilders, the first art support organization in Tampa.
- In December 1966, the Tampa Art Institute becomes part of the University of Tampa Campus and reorganizes as the Tampa Bay Art Center, remaining active while the municipality organizes the Tampa Museum for the City.
- Lee Leavengood forms the Friends of Art.
- In the Fall of 1968, Jan Von Adlmann, the first director of TBAC, introduced a new fundraising initiative, “Museum 70,” and announced plans for TBAC to become a major collector, exhibitor, and depository for the paintings and sculptures of the 19th and 20th centuries.
- The University of Tampa severs ties with the Tampa Bay Art Center, which registers as a non-profit corporation with the State of Florida.
- Representatives of the Junior Museum and the Tampa Bay Art Center meet at the Junior League of Tampa headquarters to discuss a possible merger.
- The Tampa Museum Federation developed as a merger between the Tampa Bay Art Center and The Tampa Junior Museum was unfolding. The City of Tampa broke ground for a city art museum.
- Volunteer Study Committee begins a two-year effort to establish Friends of The Arts, a combination of TBAC and TJM volunteer support groups.
- Upon his death artist C. Paul Jennewein bequeaths all the work in his studio (at least 250 pieces) to the Tampa Bay Art Center.
- On September 20, 1979, Tampa Mayor Bill Poe, Florida Governor Bob Graham, and First Lady Rosalynn Carter cut the ribbon to officially open the Tampa Museum. They joined a host of other state and local dignitaries as well as an estimated 900 people at the opening ceremony. The new art museum opens in downtown Tampa on a riverfront site at Doyle Carlton Drive.
- John Nozynski, Director of the Tampa Museum, introduced The Pavilion, the museum’s white-tie fundraising ball.
- The Tampa Museum officially changes its name to the Tampa Museum of Art (TMA) after a unanimous vote by the museum’s board of trustees.
- Executive Director, R. Andrew Maas, begins the process of obtaining the Joseph Veach Noble collection of Greek antiquities, valued at considerably more than the $1 million purchase price, with money raised through a coalition of private and public sources.
- TMA is accredited by the American Association of Museums (AAM) and designated as a Major Cultural Institution by the State of Florida.
- In July 2000, Tampa Major Dick Greco announces a plan for a cultural arts district on the downtown waterfront, including a new art museum building.
- TMA’s Board of Trustees selects architect Stanley Saitowitz to build a new 66,000-square-foot facility on a new site in Curtis Hixon Park.
- In June 2006, the first Pride & Passion fundraiser is held at the museum, tapping into support from the city’s LGBTQ+ community.
- On December 16, 2007, the first Tampa Museum of Art building closes its doors. The museum makes plans to move into interim quarters at Centro Español.
- The new Tampa Museum of Art building opens on February 5, 2010.
- The fashion fundraiser CITY is the first gala to be held in the new museum.
- The museum introduces the Connections program, through which individuals and special interest groups—including those with memory impairment, PTSD and depression, substance use recovery, care partners support, ALS, and military—are introduced to the galleries through facilitated conversations.
- TMA’s Board approves a five-year strategic plan, outlining a vision of a larger and financially sustainable institution to better reach and embrace audiences, create a destination location to celebrate iconic works of art and new breakthroughs in artistic directions, and an education venue for community dialogues with internationally recognized artists and scholars.
- In May 2016, the first Youth Council begins working under the Community Engagement Manager’s supervision. The Youth Council is a small group of 10-15 students from high schools around Hillsborough County who meet over the summer to plan programs for Bay Area teens.
- TMA hires its first studio programs coordinator to offer studio classes for adults and branch out with offsite partnerships across Hillsborough County.
- The Vinik Family Foundation pledges a $5 million gift to endow the executive director position and rename it as the Penny and Jeff Vinik Executive Director of the Tampa Museum of Art.
- On November 8, 2019, the exhibition The Making of a Museum: 100 Years, 100 Works opened highlighting works representative of the museum’s collecting history and mission. An accompanying history project consisting of a book and documentary video of the same name was produced to record the legacy the Tampa Bay community built with the museum.
- The Tampa Museum of Art finds creative uses of technology to celebrate its centennial anniversary safely during the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic.
- In March 2020, TMA introduces Museum from Home, a series of virtual programs to expand on in-person education programs to bring art into people’s homes.
- In May 2020, TMA announces its participation in Museums for All, a national program that allows individuals and families who receive SNAP benefits (food stamps) free or reduced general admission to many museums simply by showing their active EBT card at the admissions desk.
- On October 1, 2020, the Tampa Bay Businesses for Culture and the Arts recognized the Tampa Museum of Art for 100 Years of Cultural Leadership and Community.
- TMA receives a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services to support expanded and enhanced museum programming over the next two years.
- On November 7, 2020, the museum hosts Centennial Celebration: Cheers for 100 Years, a festive virtual fundraiser to ensure that TMA’s art education programs and legacy continue to enrich our community during COVID-19 and for generations to come.
- On January 14, 2021, the Tampa Museum of Art unveiled plans for its Centennial Renovation, a project to increase exhibition space, enhance existing educational facilities and allow for more hands-on experiences for visitors.
- The improvement work for the Centennial Renovation began in June 2021, with the design and direction of New York-based WEISS/MANFREDI Architecture/Landscape/Urbanism, and construction oversight by general contractor Skanska USA’s Tampa operation. The Centennial Renovation is expected to be completed in the second half of 2022.
- On November 8, 2021, the Tampa Museum of Art announced a transformative expansion plan for its downtown Tampa campus that will add a crystalline, four-story structure to the waterfront, significantly enhancing the visitor experience and expanding the Museum’s education and event spaces.
- On April 25, 2022, the Tampa Museum of Art announced it received a landmark $25 million donation from Dick Corbett as the lead donation to the Museum’s Centennial Capital Campaign for Renovation and Expansion.
- On May 16, 2022, opened the doors to the brand new Vinik Family Education Center, the first completed portion of the Tampa Museum of Art’s renovation project. The new center is named in honor of a $5 million gift made by Jeff and Penny Vinik to the Museum’s $100 million Centennial Campaign for Renovation and Expansion.
- The Tampa Museum of Art presented the first annual Juneteenth Cultural Celebration on June 19, 2022, in partnership with Moffitt Cancer Center, its George Edgecomb Society, HORUS Construction Services, HORUS Academy and CAN Community Health.
2023 and beyond
- On April 26, 2023, the Tampa Museum of Art celebrates the completion of the Centennial Renovation, with all exhibitions open in its seven new galleries and classrooms open in the Vinik Family Education Center.