Collections

Collections

Our collection includes artifacts, paintings, textiles, utilitarian ceramics, postcards, documents, ephemera and furniture with a relevance to Florida and specifically to our regional area.

The History Center’s collections date from prehistoric Gulf Coast Florida to the present. The collection covers all spheres of life, public and domestic, in a fairly complete manner. The research library contains nearly 10,000 books, manuals, maps, documents, microfilm and family/subject papers all Florida history based.

Tampa Bay History Center has an exceptional collection of more than 1,000 Tampa cigar industry related items, as well as a vast display Florida Seminole objects and materials from the Charles L. Knight Family. The collections are assembled to complement and strengthen the interpretation of the history of our area and state. Large galleries, in the facility, showcase maritime heritage, historic Cigar City, cattle-ranching industry, Seminole materials and our changing environment.

The education collection contains unaccessioned, duplicate, replications and expendable items and consists of some 125 objects directly related to life in historic Hillsborough County and Florida. These items are used in gallery Discovery Boxes, History-to-Go Kits, hands-on tours, teacher workshops and other programs.

Adopt an Artifact

With more than 60,000 objects in the History Center’s permanent collection, caring for Tampa Bay’s material culture is an important part of our mission.  Now you can help with the History Center’s “Adopt an Artifact” program which allows individuals, families, groups, foundations, and corporations to contribute for the proper care and housing of select artifacts.  Your tax-deductible contribution will help to underwrite the cost of preserving our area’s history for future generations and all funds raised from adoptions will support conservation needs including assessment, cleaning, stabilization, repairs, storage, and long-term care.

You can view six of these artifacts in a pull-out case located in the History Center’s second floor gallery.

The six objects currently in need of conservation include:

  • 42-star U.S. flag that may have flown over the Hillsborough County Courthouse in 1891
  • 45-star U.S. flag circa 1896-1906
  • WW I Private’s uniform
  • WWII-era Army Air Corps jacket
  • Seminole Indian longshirt
  • Portrait of former Tampa mayor Perry G. Wall

Donors will receive recognition any time the object is displayed.  For information on how you can adopt an artifact, contact please the History Center’s curatorial staff at collections@tampabayhistorycenter.org.

Donate an Artifact

Thank you for your interest in donating to the Tampa Bay History Center Collection. New artifacts and documents are added to the collection every year through the generosity of individuals and corporations. These donations help us fulfill our mission as interpreters of the region’s history.

How Can I Donate an Artifact to the Museum?

Over the years the Tampa Bay History Center has acquired approximately 85% of its artifact collection through public donations.  If you have artifacts or documents that you believe would complement the museum’s collection, please contact the History Center’s curatorial staff at collections@tampabayhistorycenter.org. Artifacts cannot be accepted without prior communication with museum staff.

The staff will determine whether the object meets the museum’s board-approved collecting criteria. In evaluating the object for acceptance into the collection, we will consider the following questions:

  • Was the object made or used in the Tampa Bay area or state of Florida?
  • What is the object’s historical significance?
  • Is there documentation (written or oral) on the object?
  • Does the object need conservation work?
  • Does the object duplicate or support the existing collection?
  • What is the object’s exhibit potential?
  • What is the object’s educational potential?
  • What impact would the object have on available storage space?

If the object meets the criteria, the curator will present it to the collections committee who will vote on whether to accept the item(s). Following the meeting you will be contacted regarding the next steps.

Can I loan my item to the museum?

The Tampa Bay History Center is unable to accept long term loans, loans for unspecified periods of time, or that are not related to a specific exhibit.  We may seek out artifacts in support of upcoming exhibits and programs but these loans are for a limited time, usually no more than 6 months and are based on our needs as determined by the curatorial staff.

Is my donation tax deductible?

Yes. The Tampa Bay History Center is recognized as a qualified charitable organization, thus the fair market value of your donated materials is generally tax deductible. To take advantage of your deduction, you must file tax form 1040 and, depending on the value of  your donation, tax form 8283. It is recommended that you consult with your own accountant, attorney, or the IRS to ensure that you receive the maximum tax benefit.  You may also consult Internal Revenue Service Publication No. 526, Charitable Contributions, and Publication No. 561, Determining the Value of Donated Property.

Can the History Center appraise objects?

No. Although the Tampa Bay History Center welcomes artifact donations, it does not provide authentication and appraisal services.

An object’s value can often be determined by consulting one of the many price guides available in libraries and bookstores. If you wish to obtain a formal, written appraisal of an object (for which you may be charged a fee), please consult the following professional associations to find an accredited appraiser in your area.

Will my artifacts or documents be used in an exhibit?

The History Center cannot guarantee that any objects or documents donated to its collection will be exhibited. Only a small fraction of the collection is on view at any given time but many artifacts and documents are made available for research purposes.

Collections Wish List

  • Signage, pamphlets, and other ephemera related to the Civil Rights Movement, anti-war protests, and local community protest/activism events from the 1960s in Tampa and Florida
  • Materials such as posters and other promotional items documenting the region’s film and television industries
  • Artifacts and documents related to the Civil War in Florida
  • Tampa Bay sports artifacts and memorabilia