This Saturday is the 11th Annual Smithsonian Museum Day and the opportunity for people to go online and get two free tickets to museums that may cost up to $15 dollars a ticket.
In Florida there are 97 museums to select – 27 in the Orlando area, 26 in the Miami area, and 20 in the Tampa Bay area. Florida’s two best art museums – The Ringling Galleries in Sarasota and the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach – are included on the list.
As a historian I have a preference to promote history museums and while the State Museum in Tallahassee is far distant for many Floridians and tourists, there are two great regional history museums I love.
The Tampa Bay History Museum sits on the waterfront of Downtown Tampa’s booming Channelside district and features the story of the region from For Brooke and the Seminole Wars to Cigar City USA to modern times. As a great bonus the Columbia Restaurant offers a cafe dining experience in the museum.
Orlando took a downtown five-story 1927 county courthouse on Central Boulevard and turned it into the Orange County Regional History Center. The museum covers the story of the entire Central Florida area before it became the domain of the Mouse. They even maintained an entire courtroom for the kids to play judge.
My favorite cultural museum is Ah-Tah=Thi-Ki Museum located off FL 833 on the Big Cypress Indian Reservation. With contributions from famous nature photographers and anthropologists and artists, the museum captures the story of the Seminole Indians and their adjustment to life in the Everglades. You can walk out the back door to a broadwalk into the reality of the swamp.
I greatly appreciate small towns preserving their history and a museum that few people have visited the Camp Gordon Johnson WWII Museum located in the Carrabelle City Complex in the Panhandle Gulf of Mexico port. Here was the site of a WWII military base that trained over 250,000 amphibious soldiers and the museum honors the training and performance of these brave Americans.