Tampa Bay’s newest Black history exhibit opens on Water Street

Ribbon cutting for Travails and Triumphs on Friday, June 2, 2023.
Ribbon cutting for Travails and Triumphs on Friday, June 2, 2023.

Travails and Triumphs tells a story 500 years in the making

(TAMPA, May 30, 2023) – People of African descent have lived and labored in the Tampa Bay area for over five centuries. Travails and Triumphs tells the story of the communities and families they forged, the hardships they endured, the jobs they worked, and the triumphs they celebrated.

This expansive exhibit is a first for the Tampa Bay area and will anchor the History Center’s third-floor galleries on Water Street. 

After an eight-week renovation, the Tampa Bay History Center will formally open this new permanent exhibit on Friday, June 2, 2023, with a media preview and ribbon cutting at 9:30 a.m. The general public will get their first glimpse when museum galleries open at 10 a.m. 

This new experience at the History Center includes stories from the first African-descended individuals who traveled to Florida during Spanish expeditions in the 1500s. It features documents from the era of enslavement and the U.S. Civil War. The exhibit also chronicles the tremendous growth and successes of Tampa’s Black community in the twentieth century, particularly Central Avenue’s Black business district. Travails and Triumphs also brings the stories of more recent figures to life with interactive displays and more than 100 local artifacts collected and donated to the History Center.  

“We’re looking forward to being able to share these powerful stories with the community, and we’re grateful to our exhibit sponsors, historians, and curatorial team for making this exhibit a reality,” said C.J. Roberts, the History Center’s Frank E. Duckwall president and CEO.    

Travails and Triumphs was made possible with support from TECO, Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners, and the Tampa Bay Lightning.

“Tampa has a rich and diverse cultural history, and those roots built the foundation for the Florida of today,” said David Nicholson, vice president of legal and general counsel for Tampa Electric and Peoples Gas. “We are proud to make meaningful contributions to this community that help tell the story of Black history in Tampa Bay.”

“This exhibit is yet another example of how much we value our history and those that have shaped the rich cultural fabric of our community,” said Hillsborough County’s current County Administrator, Bonnie Wise. These stories have been crafted together so expertly; I am confident visitors will leave inspired.”

“The Tampa Bay Lightning is proud to support Travails and Triumphs,” said Elizabeth Frazier, E.V.P. of community development and social impact and executive director for the Lightning Foundation. “As a neighbor to the History Center in the Water Street Tampa district, we are thrilled to see this important exhibit come to fruition that celebrates the tremendous legacy and contributions of black history here in Tampa Bay.” 

About the Tampa Bay History Center

Located on Tampa’s Riverwalk, the Tampa Bay History Center includes three floors of permanent and temporary exhibition space focusing on 12,000 years of Florida’s history and culture. A Smithsonian Affiliate museum accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, the History Center includes the Touchton Map Library and Florida Center for Cartographic Education, and the Witt Research Center, and is home to the Columbia Cafe. One of Tampa’s premier cultural venues, the History Center’s hands-on, interactive exhibits and theaters provide an entertaining and educational experience for visitors of all ages. For more information, visit www.tampabayhistorycenter.org.