That motto being, “Exactly What You Didn’t Expect.”
Unless what you were expecting were a 1920’s era cigar store, a row up the Hillsborough River, and whoopie!…cowboys and indians Klingons and Batman and Luke Skywalker, a sleepover for teddy bears and some of the best Spanish Bean Soup Tampa has to offer!
Inside the stunning 60,000 square foot glass and steel structure located in the exciting Channelside district of downtown Tampa, you will find the records and footprints and artifacts and the rich and fascinating and vibrant history of the Tampa Bay region – a whopping 12,000 years of human habitation, 500 years of recorded history, of including the first settlement in the United States, predating the Jamestown settlement and Plymouth colony by 80 to 90 years.
And a lot of those aforementioned fun things, too, like Batman and Luke Skywalker and sleepovers for teddy bears, and we’ll get to that later.
But let’s get to the rich and vibrant and fascinating history stuff first.
Ponce de Leon first visited these shores in 1513, and Hernando De Soto later on in 1534 and many hearty and brave and remarkable explorers and conquistadores whose visits heralded the beginning of the rich and bountiful trade routes for food, and fiber and technology they set up between Europe and the United States, long before there even was a United States.
There were more Spanish Conquistadores, Seminole Indians, pioneer settlers, and later on Civil war soldiers and immigrants from all of Europe, and cigar workers, sports legends, railroad tycoons and people of every race, walk of life and history of their own they brought to the region beginning with that first settlement, Fort Brooke reservation, the birthplace of modern Tampa,..which is just an artifact’s throw away from the sparkling modern building which houses all of that history.
And the people who run this extraordinary museum- that would be the Hillsborough county board of county commissioners , the City of Tampa, the State of Florida and many private sector donors who provide the means and funds for the employees and many volunteers who use an amazing and dynamic program of permanent and changing exhibits and programs and film and hands on interactive experiences to bring all of this rich history to life.
For instance, the just completed “Blue and Gray in Tampa Bay.” Florida was the third state to secede fromt the Union in 1861, and the exhibit chronicled the State of Florida’s deep involvement in the Civil War, including the “Cowboy Cavalcades” who escorted and protected the cattle drives which delivered meat to the Confederate soldiers fighting at the front lines.
And then of course, all those Klingons and cowpokes and Indians and Luke SkylWalker and Darth Vader in the scheduled “Out of This world: Extraordinary Costumes From Televison and Film.” from October 1, 2011 to January 7, 2012.
And now, let’s get to those teddy bears!
That would be the “Stuffed Animals Sleepover Celebrating Grandparents Day on September 10 from 10:30 am to 11:30am.
Kids are invited to bring their grandparents and their favorite stuffed animals for an hour of treats and crafts and story telling. Then they get to make a special blanket for their teddy bear…or maybe stuffed dragon…and leave them over night and return the next day to learn what fun their teddy…or dragon…enjoyed the night before. And the mischief they surely got into, stuffed animals being what they are and having all those wonderful things to explore the whole night long.
In addition to all of the exhibits and interactive programs and films and lectures and and really spectacular recreations of the rich history of the people and events of this Tampa Bay region, you’ll find the Colombia Cafe in the atrium, which serves up…among other delicious treats, that rich and tasty Spanish Bean Soup the renowned and storied nearby Colombia Restaurant is so famous for.
A visit here could…and should …..take a whole day to immerse yourself in the company of all of those Spanish conquistidores, hardy pioneer settlers, Indians, cowboys, Civil war soldiers, immigrants, cigar workers, sports legends and railroad tycoons who blazed the many trails which led us to this great city of Tampa.
Oh, and if you happen to find an artifact or two lying around on your lawn or under your basement, bring it on, the museum will take good care of it and you will have the added joy of being able to share your find with the 1.5 million visitors who check out the Tampa Bay History Center every year.
And we bet everyone of them goes away satisfied and enriched…we sure did.
Tampa Bay History Center 801 Old Water Street Tampa Florida, 33602
Open daily 10:00am to 5pm Closed Thanksgiving and Christmas Day
Admission: Adults 12.00 Children 10.00