About the Tampa Museum of Art
the museum

Founded in 1920, the Tampa Museum of Art inspires the residents of the Tampa Bay region and others around the world by providing engaging exhibitions and innovative educational programs that emphasize ancient, modern and contemporary art. As the Tampa Museum of Art celebrates its 100th anniversary, its exhibitions in part will focus on the breadth of the institution’s growing permanent collection.

The Museum houses one of the largest Greek and Roman antiquities collections in the southeastern United States. As one of the region’s largest museums devoted to the art of our time, the Museum’s 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.

Year-round creative classes offered both on-site and at various locations throughout Hillsborough County provide children, teens, and adults with opportunities to discover new skills and learn different art-making techniques. The Museum brings together local, national and international artists and scholars to inspire visitors to take part in exhibitions and art discourse through lectures, tours, and community partnerships.

While shopping for unique exhibition-related objects at the Museum Store or enjoying handcrafted meals, coffee, and gelato at the Riverwalk Cafe at TMA, visitors can take in the views of Tampa’s scenic riverfront and see why the Museum also serves as one of Tampa’s premier venues for special private events.

Located in the heart of downtown, next to Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park and Tampa’s Riverwalk, the Tampa Museum of Art leads as both a cultural institution and a community museum dedicated to celebrating the diversity of its home city.

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.


Historical Timeline:


  • 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).
  • Its first exhibition opened at 8 p.m. on November 22 in the Red Cross room at 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.


  • Elementary school teachers begin efforts to organize a Junior Museum.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • The new art museum opens in downtown Tampa on a riverfront site, four years later becoming known as the Tampa Museum of Art (TMA).


  • TMA is accredited by the American Association of Museums (AAM) and designated as a Major Cultural Institution by the State of Florida.


  • 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.


  • The new museum opens to the public on February 6.

2016 and beyond

  • 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.
Experience art with us.

Copyright Richard Barnes.