Florida Is Not All Football – There’s A Big Art Scene


The other day Tampa was packed with people from Iowa and Florida Gator fans for the annual Outback Bowl.  Next weekend the Clemson-Alabama NCAA Championships will bring 100,000+ football fans into the city.

But Florida is more than football.

My wife and daughter and I weren’t at the game Monday.  We drove over to the spectacular Salvador Dali Museum on the Saint Petersburg waterfront to see the Frida Kahlo Exhibit.  The museum was crowded so much that parking was moved to the parking garage at the Mahaffey Theater, St. Petersburg’s performing arts facility and concert hall.


Crowds Pack Dali Museum

The Dali Museum, the largest collection of Dali works outside of Europe, is just one of many Florida art museums that many visitors don’t expect in the state more famous for amusement parks, sports, and white sand beaches.


Art lovers know that the Florida State Art Museum, the 1927 John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, is a massive 21 gallery complex on a multi-acre setting including John Ringling’s waterfront mansion, and the Circus Museum with the largest collection of circus art in the world.  Ringling’s coverage of 16th to 20th century European art is famous, but his Ribens paintings are world-renowned.


Most people don’t know that the Ringling Art Library of 90,000 art books, including rare manuscripts, is used by art researchers from around the world.

Do you like the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright?  The world’s largest single site of Frank Lloyd Wright buildings is on the Florida Southern University Campus in Lakeland on a 100 acre lakeside site called by Princeton Review in 2012 the most beautiful college campus in America.  The Pfeiffer Chapel alone is worth the visit.


The Beautiful Florida Southern Campus

Winter Park, near Orlando, is the home of the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art, housing the most extensive collection of the diverse works of Louis Comfort Tiffany in the entire world.  When Tiffany’s estate Laurelton Hall burnt down, the staff rescued priceless artifacts.  The museum has part of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition by Tiffany.


The Morse Museum Is Unique

All major Florida cities have art museums.  Perhaps my favorite is the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach.  With 7,000 works, it actually has more art work than the giant Ringling holdings.  It is big of contemporary American art, but the top floor European collection has everything from Monet to Gauguin to Chagall to Matisse.


The Norton Museum Is A Work Of Art

On your next vacation trip around Florida be sure to look up the area’s art museum.  It can be as exciting as a football game.

About floridatraveler

Historian and travel writer M. C. Bob Leonard makes the Sunshine State his home base. Besides serving as content editor for several textbook publishers and as an Emeritus college professor, he moderates the FHIC at www.floridahistory.org
This entry was posted in art, attractions, florida education, florida history, Florida parks, florida vacations, Historic Buildings and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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