Temporary Exhibits

Temporary Exhibits


Suited for Space

Feb. 1-April 27

A5-L-Spacesuit-WebIn 1961 President John F. Kennedy declared the United States would land a man on the moon and return him safely to Earth before the end of the decade. To achieve this ambitious goal, astronauts would need not only a spacecraft to launch them safely into space, but a spacesuit that would protect them. Without the proper clothing to keep them alive while traveling, living, and working beyond the bonds of Earth, space exploration would not be possible.

Suited for Space, a new exhibition from the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) and the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum explores the history and technology used to design NASA’s spacesuits. This one-of-kind exhibition takes visitors on a journey through nearly a century of spacesuit design and development, from the earliest high-altitude pressure suites to the iconic white suites of the Apollo mission.

The exhibition features large-scale photographs of suits worn by astronauts from Project Mercury through the Skylab program as well as images of suits used in testing and training. In addition to the photographs by Smithsonian photographer Mark Avino, the exhibit includes new X-ray images that provide a unique view of the interiors of the spacesuits. While the fragility of these spacesuits prevents them from traveling, the exhibition will feature a replica Apollo spacesuit on loan from NASA and objects from the National Air and Space Museum’s collection, including a glove, a boot and several helmets. Avino’s photographs provide a visual timeline of the spacesuits’ development over the years.

Suited for Space comes to the History Center via the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES). The History Center is one of twelve Smithsonian Affiliate Institutions in Florida.

 Suited for Space is at the History Center through April 27.

Repurposed DooDad Art/Sculpture Competition
May 5 – June 1
doodadsThe Annual Doodad Competition challenges Hillsborough County Public School student artists to create meaningful art from re-purposed objects.    
Against All Odds: The Art of the Highwaymen
June 14 – August 17

Against All OddsThe Highwaymen began as a group of African American artists who, against all odds, prospered by selling their paintings in the segregated South of the 1950s and ’60s. One charismatic man dreamed big and developed a fast method of painting that he generously shared with 25 others. Collectively, they produced more than 200,000 paintings over a 30-year period.  

Against All Odds: The Art of the Highwaymen, includes paintings by all 26 Highwaymen artists, plus a painting by A.E. “Beanie” Backus, an accomplished white Florida landscape artist who encouraged the Highwaymen to paint.

Image Courtesy of Geoff Cook


Spirited: Prohibition in America

September 1 – October 20

27840In a tumultuous era spanning 13 years, Americans could no longer manufacture, sell, or transport intoxicating beverages. Prohibition was now a part of the Constitution, holding the same status as freedom of speech and the abolition of slavery. Ratified in 1919, the 18th Amendment stirred up a passionate and sometimes volatile debate between “wets” and “drys” that will forever cement Prohibition’s place in history. Spirited: Prohibition in America, a new traveling exhibition from NEH on the Road, brings visitors back to this period of flappers and suffragists, bootleggers and temperance lobbyists, and real-life legends, such as Al Capone and Carry Nation.

Adapted from the National Constitution Center’s flagship exhibition, Spirited explores the history of Prohibition, from the dawn of the temperance movement to the unprecedented repeal of a constitutional amendment in 1933. What made the country go “dry” and how did America change during this period in history? Visitors to Spirited will learn about the amendment process, the role of liquor in American culture, the cultural revolution of the roaring ‘20s and how current liquor laws vary from state to state today.

The exhibition surveys the inventive and ingenious ways lawmakers and the American public responded to Prohibition. Visitors will learn how transportation networks and clever disguises were used to run liquor from state to state, how speakeasies gave way to the popularization of jazz, and the Charleston dance craze.

Spirited features semi-immersive environments that encompass the sights, sounds, and experiences of this fascinating period in American history. 

The Detroit News, Prohibition, Detroit, 1919, black-and-white photograph, courtesy Walter P. Reuther Library, Wayne State University

Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown

November 1 – January 31

charlieDuring its nearly 50 year history, the Peanuts comic strip grew to have a strong connection with the winter season, especially Christmas. Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown celebrates the holiday season as explored in the Peanuts comic strip and presents a behind-the-scenes history of the making of the animated classic, A Charlie Brown Christmas.

This seasonal exhibition contains reproduction comic strips, quotes by Schulz, photos from his boyhood, artifacts from A Charlie Brown Christmas special, and seasonal novelties.

 FB-Event Charting the Land of Flowers: 500 Years of Florida Maps

September 21, 2013 – April 13, 2014

One of the most comprehensive exhibitions of Florida cartography ever presented, Charting the Land of Flowers traced six centuries of Florida history, bringing together maps from museum and library collections around the world, many of which were on view to the public for the first time.  The exhibit offered viewers an opportunity to see the world as early European explorers saw it, and to see the peninsula that would become one of the South’s most populous states evolve before their eyes.  Together with atlases, city maps, nautical charts, and satellite images, the maps charted 500 years of exploration, settlement, and growth in The Land of Flowers


JFK in Tampa: The Exhibition

November 8, 2013 – January 12, 2014

JFK in Tampa: The Exhibition, captures the tension and joy of Kennedy’s 1963 Tampa visit. The exhibit features exclusive, rare film footage of Kennedy in Tampa, the podium he used while delivering a speech at the International Inn, as well as photographs, home movies, newspaper headlines, and oral histories from Tampa residents who saw and visited with the President. The exhibition also includes uniforms and badges from the Tampa Police Museum and notes from the Secret Service “Kennedy Detail” which were used while escorting the President around the city.


Circus: The Photographs of Frederick W. Glasier

May 25 – August 4, 2013

Get ready for snake charmers, high-wire walkers, dare devils, and Mamie Kline, Queen of the Iron Jaw, when the Tampa Bay History Center presents Circus: The Photographs of Frederick W. Glasier.  On loan from the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, the collection of more than 60 rare black and white photographs captures the working life of circus performers in the early 20th century, from ticket takers and sideshow performers, to contortionists, clowns, and acrobats.

Photographer Frederick W. Glasier traveled with Ringling Bros., the Sparks Circus, and the Buffalo Bill Wild West Show during the early 1900s through the 1930s, documenting the behind-the-scenes lives and work of traveling showmen and entertainers. His lens captures the humanity and spectacle of the American circus during its heyday.

The photographs selected for the History Center’s exhibition are part of a unique collection of more than 1,700 original glass plate negatives made by Glasier between 1896 and the 1930s and preserved in the archives of The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art. 

Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition

Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition: The Photographs of Carlton Ward Jr.

February 23 – May 5, 2013

Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition: The Photographs of Carlton Ward Jr. will take visitors on a virtual expedition from the Everglades to the Okefenokee. The exhibition will feature a collection of large-format images taken by Ward, along with maps, video footage, audio clips, news reports, and equipment used by team members during the expedition.


The Big Picture: A Selection of Cirkut Photographs from the Burgert Brothers Collection

January 17 – October 20, 2013

The Big Picture: A Selection of Cirkut Photographs from the Burgert Brothers Collection features rarely-seen panoramic photos and other images from the Burgert Brothers Photographic Collection. Cirkut prints ― an early form of panoramic photography ― form the heart of the History Center’s exhibition.

The History Center’s exhibition also includes a slideshow by local photographer Bryan Weinstein, who “re-photographed” locations where several original Burgert Brothers photos were taken. His methodical recreations of the historic photographs offer a striking before-and-after effect, underscoring how much the places have changed or, in some cases, remained almost exactly the same.

The exhibition also includes ledgers, glass-plate negatives, and other ephemera from the Burgert Brothers Studio.


Coffee: The World in Your Cup

October 6, 2012 – January 6, 2013

Coffee: The World in Your Cup serves up an overview of the powerful influence of coffee on environments, human cultures, and economies worldwide. Learn about coffee’s early controversial reputation as a “revolutionary drink” and consider the culture that surrounds coffee in the 21st century.


Spies, Traitors, Saboteurs: Fear and Freedom in America

February 4 – June 24, 2012

On loan from the world-famous International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C., Spies, Traitors and Saboteurs revisits long-forgotten events in our nation’s history, from the capture of the White House in 1814, to the bombing of the U.S. Capitol building in 1971 to recent events such as the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing and the September 11 attacks of 2001.

The exhibition dramatically illustrates the challenges of securing our nation against internal threats without compromising the civil liberties upon which it was founded, and reflects on how responses to domestic attacks continue to affect our everyday lives.


Out of This World: Extraordinary Costumes from Film and Television

October 1, 2011 – January 7, 2012

Just in time for Halloween, Out of This World: Extraordinary Costumes from Film and Television  will feature more than 30 costumes and related objects from science fiction films and television programs such as Star Wars, Blade Runner, Terminator, Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica and Batman.

The exhibit kicks off on Oct. 1 with an inter-galactic invasion led by Florida’s 501st Rebel Legion and the Real Tampa Ghostbusters. Costumed characters will begin their march to the History Center along downtown Tampa’s Riverwalk in Cotanchobee-Ft. Brooke Park at 1 p.m. The procession begins at the Marriott Waterside, traveling east to the History Center.

The exhibition will allow visitors to examine how costume design incorporates color, style, scale, materials, historical traditions and cultural cues to help performers and audiences engage, in new or accepted ways, with the characters being portrayed.


Sports in Tampa Bay: Through the Eyes of Lamar Sparkman

June 18 – September 12, 2011

Sports in Tampa Bay recounts teams and players from Tampa’s past, highlighting Spring Training stars, Super Bowl champions and college stand-outs. Tampa Bay’s modern sports franchises are also celebrated, with memorabilia from the Tampa Bay Rays, Lightning and Buccaneers, as well as personal items from some of Tampa’s home-grown sports heroes.

Perhaps best known as the creator of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ original swashbuckling logo, which fans labeled “Bucco Bruce,” Sparkman’s drawings of professional and amateur athletes span more than 40 years. In 2010, the Sparkman family donated more than 200 original drawings by the late cartoonist to the Tampa Bay History Center. Those drawings, along with objects from Tampa’s professional, collegiate and amateur teams, tell the story of Sports in Tampa Bay: Through the Eyes of Lamar Sparkman.


Blue and Gray in Tampa Bay: The Civil War on Florida’s Gulf Coast

January 10 – May 30, 2011

Call it Southern pride but, after the Union Navy launched a cannon ball into the living room of the Ferris home in 1862 – one of several bombardments of Tampa – the family never bothered to repair the hole.

That cannon ball, along with Civil War-era maps, weaponry, photographs and reproduction uniforms will be on exhibit during Blue and Gray in Tampa Bay: The Civil War on Florida’s West Coast.


Obscured by Time: The Magic of Florida, featuring the art of Hermann Trappman

July 10 – September 26, 2010

The Tampa Bay History Center presents Obscured by Time: The Magic of Florida, featuring the art of Hermann Trappman, opening Saturday, July 10. The exhibition will detail the natural history of Florida through Trappman’s compelling paintings, artifact replicas, fossils, and examples of the resources utilized by ancient Native Americans.

Obscured by Time offers a glimpse of early Florida, its native peoples and geography prior to European contact in the 1500s.  A self-taught artist, Trappman’s work explores the life of Florida’s early peoples and is based on artifacts, fossils and other archaeological evidence found along the shores of Florida.


Shades of Greatness: Art Inspired by Negro Leagues Baseball

February 1 – April 25, 2010 

On loan from the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, Shades of Greatness: Art Inspired by the Negro Leagues Baseball, features the work of 27 national artists working in a variety of mediums, from cubist paintings of Satchel Paige and James “Cool Papa” Bell, to bronze sculptures of batters’ hands. Some works focus on individuals, like Jackie Robinson or Effa Manley, the owner of the Newark Eagles. Others are symbolic, representing Negro Leaguers and their experiences.


Florida Cattle Ranching: Five Centuries of Tradition

September 19 – December 19, 2009

Florida Cattle Ranching chronicles the history and culture of one of Florida’s oldest industries. Southern pioneers, Florida “Crackers” and Florida Seminoles all play a part in Florida’s ranching legacy, which began when Spanish explorers brought cattle and horses to Florida in the 16th century. To date, cattle ranching remains an integral part of the state’s economy.  This exhibit features oral histories, Florida folk music, cowboy art and documentary footage.




The Community Case is a 14-foot long exhibit case located on the second floor gallery that places groups front and center in our 60,000 square foot facility for a 3 month period. You can find out more about the Community case or booking for your group here.



Abe Brown Ministries

Abe Brown Ministries

Abe Brown Ministries


Abe Brown Ministries’ Live the Brown LegacyTM display used personal artifacts and other materials to tell the story of Rev. Abraham Brown’s journey from Coach… to Educator… to Founder and CEO of Prison Crusade Ministries (now Abe Brown Ministries).

Abe Brown Ministries (ABM), is a faith and community based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that was founded in the State of Florida in 1976. Its mission is to compassionately assist offenders, ex-offenders and their families to achieve productive and fulfilling lives. ABM does this through carrying the message of HOPE into prisons, providing transitional housing and supportive services to former offenders returning to Tampa Bay communities, training clients in life skills and job skills, assisting clients in job placement, and reunifying children and families with their incarcerated parents.


Clearwater Stamp Club

Clearwater Stamp Club

This philatelic exhibit was presented by the Clearwater Stamp Club to celebrate the Quincentennial of Florida’s discovery in 1513. It was assembled by John Hayner, a member of the club, and first shown at BAYPEX, a Bay area Philatelic Exhibition, in February of 2013. He is honored and privileged to share this four-frame exhibit with the viewing public at the Tampa Bay History Center as part of its celebration of Florida’s 500th anniversary of discovery.

John is a member of the American Philatelic Society (APS), the American First Day Cover Society (AFDCS), and the American Topical Association (ATA). Starting in 1999, he has exhibited at a variety of national stamp shows and won numerous awards. In his retirement, philately is his major hobby. His primary collecting interest is acquiring First Day and Event Covers in order to exhibit them according to a topical subject or event – as this one is on the occasion of Florida’s Quincentennial.

Congregation Schaarai Zedek

Congregation Schaarai Zedek


Founded in 1894, congregation Schaarai Zedek is the third oldest synagogue in Florida.  It is also the largest synagogue in Florida outside of the lower east coast, numbering more than one thousand families.

The goal of this exhibit was to tell the history of Congregation Schaarai Zedek, to show the impact of members of the congregation on the economic and political life of Tampa, to highlight the congregation’s role in religious and charitable efforts in Tampa, and to show the important role of The Temple in Tampa’s cultural diversity. Panels were created using historical photos and documents, replicas of the Schaarai Zedek stained glass windows found in the synagogue were displayed, and the religious heritage of the Jewish people was presented using ceremonial objects.

Tampa Woman's Club

Tampa Woman’s Club


The GFWC Tampa Woman’s Club was organized in 1900 by 10 members as a cultural and social organization meeting regularly for literary discussions and refreshments at what is now the University of Tampa. As membership grew, their interests widened and in 1913 the Club was accepted into the GFWC Florida Federation of Woman’s Clubs (GFWC Florida). Educational and welfare projects became part of the members’ concerns.


Friends of Plant Park

Friends of Plant Park


Three existing panels at the Tampa Bay History Center displayed information and images depicting the histories of Henry B. Plant Park, the Friends of Plant Park and GreenFest. FoPP is honored to share its story in this state-of-the-art interactive museum.

The mission of Friends of Plant Park is to(a) assist with the restoration, preservation and maintenance of the Henry B. Plant Park, Tampa, Florida, as a botanical garden open to the general public, (b) research and publicize the Victorian history of the Henry B. Plant Park and (c) educate the public and cultivate community interest in and support for the forgoing activities.

Girl Scouts of West Central Florida

Girl Scouts of West Central Florida


Girl Scouts of West Central Florida’s display celebrated the rich 100-year history of Girl Scouts, both locally and nationally. The first Girl Scout troop in the nation was founded by Juliette Gordon Low in Savannah, GA in 1912; locally, Girl Scouts of West Central Florida is home to the second Girl Scout troop in the nation which was founded at Hyde Park United Methodist Church in Tampa in 1913. The display featured an array of Girl Scout artifacts and uniforms spanning several decades and guided visitors through the 100-year evolution of the largest girl-serving organization in the nation.

Girl Scouting builds girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place. Girl Scouts of West Central Florida serves nearly 21,000 girls in grades K-12 and nearly 10,000 adult members in Citrus, Hernando, Hillsborough, Marion, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk and Sumter counties.

Tampa Catholic

Tampa Catholic High School


Tampa Catholic High School history display was used to celebrate the school’s 50th Anniversary since its opening on September 4, 1962. TC opened its doors to educate students of Hillsborough, and surrounding counties and was and still is the only co-educational Catholic diocesan high school in the area. The community case was used to showcase the first five decades of TC history. The display was designed around five narrative panels and many wonderful artifacts including the school’s first computers, vintage uniforms and clothing, and historic memorabilia.

Tampa Catholic High School is centrally located in Tampa and derives its student body from all areas of Hillsborough and surrounding counties. TC serves a wide diversity of students, both Catholic and non-Catholic. In its 51 years of educating Tampa’s youth, TC has more than 8,500 graduates. Our classes consistently score above state and national averages on SAT and ACT tests and 99% of graduates continue on to a college or university.

Nursing Heroes

Nursing Heroes

As the first exhibit to tell the story of local nurses who have shaped the delivery of health care, Nursing Heroes: Caring for the Community honored the rich and unique history of nursing in Tampa Bay. “This is nurses time to shine,” said Linda Hankins, exhibit committee chair, “Nurses tend to be invisible. They are behind the scenes, doing the work and getting it done. They typically don’t take the time to appreciate and recognize one another’s contributions.”

Curated by Julia Gorzka Freeman, the exhibit featured the stories of 5 nurses who took risks to break through gender and racial barriers to serve their country, save lives, and improve the health of all citizens. From opening the first hospital in Tampa to care for Black patients, pioneering midwifery training to improve survival rates of mothers and infants, and developing a scientific theory of nursing practice to improve patient care, these nursing heroes took on historic challenges that transformed the delivery of health care.  Visitors also experienced the diverse ways in which today’s registered nurses, who comprise the largest health care profession, are working to improve health care. From flight nursing at 15,000 to 30,000 feet in the air to bedside nursing in hospitals and long-term care facilities to the halls of research institutions, state legislatures, and Congress, the depth and breadth of the nursing profession continues to evolve to meet the health care needs of our community.

Ruskin Woman's Club

Ruskin Woman’s Club


The exhibit contained photographs and documents as well as tools and implements highlighting the community’s most recent century and touching on its pre-historic era prior to arrival of the massive 1539 Hernando de Soto expedition.

Started in 1912, the Ruskin Woman’s Club is actively engaged in volunteer community service. Their main objective is college scholarships, although they donate to the Ruskin Library, the South Shore Regional Library, The Mary and Martha House, Camp Bayou Learning Center, Keep Hillsborough Beautiful, Hoby, Firehouse Cultural Center and other organizations.  In 1919, The Club joined the Florida Federation of Women’s Clubs becoming the 19th in Florida. Their Club House was built in 1910 as the home of  George Miller, President of the Ruskin College, and in 1940 the Miller Family deeded their family home to the Ruskin Woman’s Club.  Since that time the house preservation and grounds maintenance have been the responsibility of the Ruskin Woman’s Club and through fundraising and donations from the community-at-large, they continue to restore this grand piece of history.


Moffitt Cancer Center

Moffitt Cancer Center


On Oct. 27, 2011, Moffitt celebrated 25 years dedicated to one mission: to contribute to the prevention and cure of cancer. A slice of Moffitt life was featured in the Community Case at the Tampa Bay History Center. It told the story of Moffitt’s bold beginning, groundbreaking research and exceptional patient care.

Junior League of Tampa

The Junior League of Tampa


Whether it’s distributing more than 20,000 books each year to children in Title 1 schools or donating nearly 30,000 pounds of food annually to needy families, The Junior League of Tampa has been a positive force in the Tampa area since the 1920s. To commemorate the group’s enduring history, an exhibit was produced by The Junior League of Tampa and MarketingDirection.com which donated more than 45 hours of creative services time to complete the displays within the exhibit.

Christy Vogel, president of MarketingDirection.com said the project was a learning experience for her. “As a League member since the early 90’s I thought I knew about all of the contributions the Junior League of Tampa has made, but there were a few I didn’t know about, such as the League providing tuberculosis care in 1920’s.” Junior League of Tampa President Betsy Graham said the biggest challenge of the project was to figure out how to put 85 years of history in one display. “We wanted to include everything, but had to focus on a few highlights throughout the years.”

Tampa Bay Ship Model Society

Tampa Bay Ship Model Society


Standing on the deck of an aircraft carrier, one can hardly grasp the whole, whereas viewing a model, it is within reach. This display is simply a collection of models made by members, who choose subjects that interest them individually. Often they take commercial kits and through deep research, modify them to portray a particular date or event with far greater historical accuracy than the kit can do. Others build from raw materials and plans to create solid images of vessels that might never have been seen in scale. New facts come to light on ships that are well known, and so, modelers can represent these, adding to the public knowledge when these models are displayed and/or published. Finally, it is only in model-makers that many of the skills of our maritime past reside.

Historic Old Northeast Neighborhood Association

Historic Old Northeast Neighborhood Association


The Historic old Northeast Neighborhood Association was the first organization outside of Tampa to have an exhibit in the Community Case. The exhibit was on display from Nov. 24th, 2010, through February 2011. It was based on a book published by the Association (Souvenir of St. Petersburg, Views from the Vinoy) to promote appreciation for the neighborhood which celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2011. (Fifty copies of the book were donated to every elementary school in St. Petersburg.)

The mission of the Historic Old Northeast Neighborhood Association is to promote, preserve, and protect quality of life in our unique corner of the world. Located adjacent to burgeoning downtown, the neighborhood is characterized by a diversity of architectural styles, waterfront greenspace, brick streets, granite curbs, hexblock sidewalks, and front porches. An enveloping street tree canopy reinforces the pedestrian quality of the neighborhood. The Association sponsors Porch Parties, the December Candlelight Tour of Homes and many other activities which foster engagement and participation by residents.

Panama Canal Museum

Panama Canal Museum


The story of one of the greatest engineering feats of the 20th century, the construction of the Panama Canal, came to life in the Panama Canal Museum’s Community Case exhibit. This exhibited featured photographs of the Canal’s construction and other artifacts.

In 1906, the United States Congress declared that Tampa be the first city to celebrate the building of the Panama Canal, requesting that President Theodore Roosevelt hold a naval review in the waters of Tampa Bay.  “By reason of its being further to the southward and nearer to said Canal than any other city in the country, having a deep and commodious harbor, reached by ample railroad facilities, as also on account of its salubrious climate and spirit of American progress among its citizens manifest in the rapid growth and development of the city and her commerce affords a suitable place for celebration of the work done in the construction of the Panama Canal.”

Port Tampa

City of Port Tampa Civic Association


The City of Port Tampa Civic Association has installed a display at the Tampa Bay History Center Community Case. This wonderful little port community located just west of The MacDill Air Force Base was first settled in the late 1800’s when Henry Plant extended his railroad line southwest from Tampa. Chartered as an independent City in 1893, Port Tampa was annexed by the City of Tampa in 1961. The display contains a few rare artifacts, photos and postcards, and a little history of the area.

AIA Tampa Bay

AIA Tampa Bay


The Tampa Bay Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), is proud to host 80 Years and Counting, an exhibit highlighting significant architecture in the Tampa Bay area.

To commemorate their 80th year, the AIA Community Case exhibit depicted significant landmarks in the Tampa Bay area such as the Palace Hotel on Davis Islands, Rivergate Tower, located on the corner of Ashley Street and Kennedy Boulevard, and the Skypoint condominium building in downtown Tampa.