Changing Exhibitions

Current Exhibits

Tampa Bay History Center exhibition, ETCHED FEATHERS<br />
A History of the Printed Bird logo

A History of the Printed Bird

On exhibit March 4 – October 15, 2023

Birds have mesmerized and inspired artists for centuries. Etched Feathers examines the works, and artistic processes, of John Costin and other bird artists and devotees, whose creations capture the essence of winged beauty. See this incredible exhibit from March 4 to Oct. 15 in the Wayne Thomas Gallery.

Tampa Bay History Center, Kitschy Cartography: Illustrated & Pictorial Maps of Florida logo


Illustrated & Pictorial Maps of Florida

On exhibit now – April 2, 2023

Maps aren’t just about geography. They can also help convey a broader idea of what to expect as you explore what is featured on that map.  One way to tell that larger story is through illustrations.  Depictions of people, animals, and other images appear on some of the earliest maps. Since these maps were produced during a time of limited literacy, visual symbols were an important – and sometimes only – way to deliver information.

Hillsborough County Women’s Hall of Fame

On display March 1 – 31, 2023

The Hillsborough County Women’s Hall of Fame exhibit, March 1 to 31 in the Annis Gallery, will feature women from the past 13 years of the Hall of Fame’s honorees and recognize 2023 recipients. The Women’s Hall of Fame was created in 2011 by the Hillsborough County Commission on the Status of Women (COSW) to honor women who, through their lives and efforts, have made significant contributions to improving life for women and all citizens of Hillsborough County. 

In addition to selecting and celebrating the Women’s Hall of Fame members, the COSW studies and makes recommendations to the Board of County Commissioners on vital issues affecting women in our county. These issues include discrimination, employment, education, childcare, and healthcare.

Upcoming Exhibits

Mapping the History of the Conch Republic

On exhibit April 15 – October 15, 2023

Key West and the Florida Keys have played an outsized role in Florida’s history. First appearing on a Spanish map in 1511, the Keys had been home to the Tequesta and Calusa for thousands of years. In more modern times, Key West was at one point the largest city in Florida, home to wreckers, cigar makers, fisherfolk, and other colorful characters. Historical and modern maps and charts chronicle that past–see them at the Tampa Bay History Center’s latest exhibit, Key West and the Florida Keys, from April 15 to Oct. 15 in the Saunders Foundation Gallery.

Past Exhibits

Celebrating Our Heritage: 30 Years of Hispanic Themed Art from the Tampa Hispanic Heritage Archive

January 28, 2017 – March 5, 2017


What began in 1986 as a small sketch for an event invitation has grown into a celebration of Tampa’s vibrant Hispanic heritage. Indeed, each year for three decades and counting, the Tampa Hispanic Heritage, Inc. Poster Contest celebrates Tampa’s Hispanic culture and traditions.

Celebrating Our Heritage: Thirty Years of Hispanic Themed Art features 30 original works of art from the organization’s archive.

The colorful originals are all past winners of Tampa Hispanic Heritage, Inc.’s annual poster contest.

Preserving Eden: The Florida Photographs of Clyde Butcher

September 3, 2016 – January 8, 2017


Preserving Eden explores the breadth of Florida’s landscape, from wetlands to dunes, coastal hammocks to inland swamps. The exhibit depicts Florida’s rich natural beauty and geographic diversity while highlighting the state’s unique natural history. Butcher’s powerful compositions draw us into the depth of Florida’s River of Grass and transport us to the serenity of the Sunshine State’s tropical waters.

Preserving Eden also highlights Florida’s indigenous flora and fauna, and spotlights the state’s early naturalists such as Marjory Stoneman Douglas.

After nearly 50 years of photographing the natural landscapes of North America, Butcher continues to employ traditional “analog” photography methods, using a variety of vintage large-format view cameras and a custom-built darkroom to produce his award-winning images.

Re-Placing Fort Brooke

February 20 – October 30, 2016


Established on January 22, 1824 and first known simply as the “camp on the Hillsborough River,” Fort Brooke is arguably the genesis of modern-day Tampa. Presented in partnership with the Florida Public Archaeology Network and the History Center, this exhibit showed the fort, and with it the evolution of downtown Tampa, as you’ve had never seen it.  Displays included digitally-rectified overlays of the original fort, early maps and plans for Tampa’s Garrison District, and artifacts recovered from the site during the 1970s and 1980s.

Golden Legacy: Original Art from 65 Years of Golden Books

June 4 – August 14, 2016


Whether it was the Poky Little Puppy sneaking off to play or Scuffy the Tug Boat sailing down the river, there’s a good chance Little Golden Books were part of your childhood. Indeed, more than 2 billion copies of Little Golden Books have been sold since 1942, making it one of the most popular children’s book series of all time. This exhibit featured one of the most extensive public showings of original illustration art from one of American publishing’s best-loved and most consequential picture book lines, Little Golden Books.

Bringing Home the Sunshine: Collecting Florida Souvenirs

January 16, 2016 – April 17, 2016


Souvenirs are the tangible reminder of a vacation well-enjoyed. Countless numbers of people have traveled to Florida since the late 1800s to escape the cold, the crowding, and diseases of the northern states. Florida’s place as a tourist mecca was well-established years before air conditioning and Mickey Mouse were ever-present. Natural Florida and the enduring sunshine were enough to entice visitors from across the country and around the world.

St. Augustine at 450: A Look at the Oldest European City in the U.S.

May 23, 2015 – February 7, 2016


By the time the first Pilgrims set foot in New England, Spanish settlers had been strolling the cobblestone-lined streets of St. Augustine for five decades. St. Augustine at 450: A Look at the Oldest European City in the U.S.featured more than 40 original maps, charts and color lithographs of the city, which was originally settled by Pedro Menéndez de Avilés in 1565. The exhibit also featured early 19th century lithographs depicting street scenes of the Spanish settlement.

Florida’s Got the Blues

September 12 – January 3, 2016


Did you know that Hudson Whittaker ― better known as Tampa Red ― released more 78 rpm records than any other blues artist? Or that Ray Charles refined his signature rhythm and blues piano style while playing night clubs on Tampa’s Central Avenue? Did you know that Blind Blake – one of the greatest ragtime and blues guitarists – is connected with Jacksonville, Florida?

Curated by the Museum of Florida History, Florida’s Got the Blues highlighted Florida’s blues music legacy, showcasing the artists who played juke joints and night clubs from the panhandle to Miami, through photos and interactive audio recordings.

In addition to Florida’s Got the Blues, the show included a collection of rock-n-roll photography from the archives of the Tampa Bay Times featuring performers who have played on stages across Tampa Bay including Elvis, Tom Petty, The Ramones and U2.

Patios, Pools, and the Invention of the American Backyard

June 20 – August 30, 2015


In the 1950s, Americans abandoned the front porch swings and stoops of the city in favor of the wide-open suburbs and spacious backyards. Through rare photographs, historic drawings and period advertisements, Patios, Pools, & the Invention of the American Backyard explored the mid-century backyard of the 1950s from the rise of the suburbs, tract houses and the beauty of postwar garden design to the birth of the environmental movement.

Repurposed DooDad Art / Sculpture Competition

May 4 – May 31, 2015


The annual Doodad Competition challenges all K through 12 students in Hillsborough County to create three-dimensional sculptures that re-purpose common household objects.

For the 2014-2015 school year, each sculpture had to include at least 1 recyclable plastic bottle and at least one necklace of Gasparilla throw beads.

Operation Drumbeat: Nazi Threat in the Gulf

December 7, 2014 – May 10, 2015


While Allied Forces clashed on the battlefields of Europe and the Pacific, a threat was brewing closer to home. German submarines lurked beneath the waters of the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic, just a few miles from the Florida coast. 

Operation Drumbeat: Nazi Threat in the Gulf, featured a 30-foot replica of a two-man WWII-era German Seehund “midget” submarine which was constructed by local exhibit designers Creative Arts as part of H2’s new reality show, Museum Men.

WWII-era artifacts recovered by local deep-ocean shipwreck exploration company Odyssey Marine Exploration from the SS Gairsoppa shipwreck were also featured in the exhibition.

The Art of Piracy: Pirates in Modern Culture

January 24 – April 26, 2015


The Art of Piracy: Pirates in Modern Culture examined the role of art in shaping the popular and iconic images associated with 17th and 18th century pirates in and around the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and Atlantic seaboard.

The exhibition featured original paintings from current, award-winning artists such as Don Maitz, Rick Reeves and Alberto DeLama, plus original and reproduction works from famed 19th and early 20th century artists.

Also included were early illustrations that led to the original Tampa Bay Buccaneers logo, original sketches of early Gasparilla parade floats, and decorative invitations and dance cards from the first two decades of Tampa’s Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla, founders of the Gasparilla festival, which began in 1904.

Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown

November 1, 2014 – January 11, 2015


During 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 celebrated the holiday season as explored in the Peanuts comic strip and presented a behind-the-scenes history of the making of the animated classic, A Charlie Brown Christmas.

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

More Than Dots on a Map: Florida Cities and Towns

May – November 2014


General maps of the state of Florida, like most maps that cover large geographic areas, usually resort to showing cities and towns in the most basic ways, sometimes represented only by dots on the map.

However, More Than Dots on a Map: Florida Cities and Towns offered a more nuanced perspective, featuring maps devoted exclusively to cities, towns and neighborhoods.

Spirited: Prohibition in America

September 1 – October 20, 2014


Adapted from the National Constitution Center’s flagship exhibition, Spirited explored 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 learned 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.

Against All Odds: The Art of the Highwaymen

June 14 – August 17, 2014


When they began selling their artwork along Florida’s roadways during the Jim Crow era of the 1950s, Harold Newton, Alfred Hair, Roy McLendon, James Gibson, and other African American artists in Fort Pierce, Fla., were just trying to make a living. Today, The Highwaymen are enshrined in the Florida Artists Hall of Fame, their work featured in galleries and private collections all over the world.

On loan from the Orange County Regional History Center in Orlando, Against All Odds: The Art of the Highwaymen featured a rare look at the work of all 26 Florida Highwaymen.

Repurposed DooDad Art / Sculpture Competition

May 5 – June 1, 2014


What would you do with 3,000 cigar boxes? Visitors found out when hundreds of art students from Hillsborough County public schools unveiled their creations at the 3rd Annual Repurposed DooDad Art & Sculpture Competition.

Participating art classes were provided up to 20 cigar boxes – symbols of Tampa’s unique history − and were asked to transform them into works of art, all while learning the importance of repurposing and recycling objects to create something new.

Suited for Space

February 1 – April 27, 2014


Suited for Space, an exhibition from the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) and the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum explored the history and technology used to design NASA’s spacesuits.

This one-of-kind exhibition took 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.

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, captured the tension and joy of Kennedy’s 1963 Tampa visit. The exhibit featured 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 included 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


On loan from the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, the collection of more than 60 rare black and white photographs captured 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.

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

February 23 – May 5, 2013


By foot, kayak, and horseback, the expedition team journeyed north from Everglades National Park, through the Big Cypress National Preserve, up the Kissimmee River to Lake Wales Ridge, through the Ocala National Forest, and, finally, to the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge in southern Georgia.

When their journey was complete, conservation photographer Carlton Ward Jr., documentarian Elam Stolzfus, conservationist Mallory Lykes Dimmitt, and bear biologist Joe Guthrie had traveled 1,000 miles in 100 days. Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition: The Photographs of Carlton Ward Jr. took visitors on a virtual expedition from the Everglades to the Okefenokee.

The exhibition featured 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 featured 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 included 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 offered 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 included 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. Visitors Learned about coffee’s early controversial reputation as a “revolutionary drink” and 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 John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, the collection of more than 60 rare black and white photographs captured 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.

Out of This World: Extraordinary Costumes from Film and Television

October 1, 2011 – January 7, 2012


Out of This World: Extraordinary Costumes from Film and Television featured 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 exhibition allowed 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 recounted teams and players from Tampa’s past, highlighting Spring Training stars, Super Bowl champions and college stand-outs. Tampa Bay’s modern sports franchises were 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


In Florida, the third state to secede from the Union in 1861, confrontations between Confederate and Union troops raged along the Gulf Coast. During Blue and Gray in Tampa Bay: The Civil War on Florida’s West Coast, visitors learned about stealthy Confederate blockade runners and Florida’s “Cow Cavalry,” plus how the War Between the States affected Secessionists, Unionists, slaves and women in the Tampa Bay area.

Civil War-era maps, weaponry, photographs and reproduction uniforms were included in the exhibit. “The opening date of January 10th is significant,” said the History Center’s Saunders Foundation Curator of History, Rodney Kite-Powell. “Florida seceded from the Union exactly 150 years ago, on January 10, 1861.”

From the Orange Blossom Special to High Speed Rail: Train Travel in Tampa Bay

October 8 – December 31, 2010


This exhibition focused on the history of trains and rail travel in Florida including the arrival in the 1860s of various rail lines, the legacies of Henry Plant and Henry Flagler, tourism and Tampa’s electric streetcar system. It featured a train schedule for the Atlantic Coast Line where trip times between St. Petersburg and New York were entered in chalk. An old railroad lantern and oiling can were are part of the display, along with numerous photos and system maps.

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

July 10 – September 26, 2010


Obscured by Time: The Magic of Florida, featuring the art of Hermann Trappman, detailed the natural history of Florida through Trappman’s compelling paintings, artifact replicas, fossils, and examples of the resources utilized by ancient Native Americans.

This exhibit offered 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, featured 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 focused on individuals, like Jackie Robinson or Effa Manley, the owner of the Newark Eagles. Others were 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 featured oral histories, Florida folk music, cowboy art and documentary footage.