It’s baaaaaack—the Annual Smithsonian Museum Day, This is. During this one-day event on Saturday, September 17, participating museums and cultural institutions both locally and across the country are offering free entry to anyone with a Museum Day ticket. Get yours here.
Several local museums are participating, but if you’re looking for an excuse to take an art-fueled road trip, we’ve also included institutions in St. Pete and Tampa. Good museum-ing!
201 10th St. W., Bradenton, (941) 746-4131
This natural history museum specializes in the history of the Gulf Coast, with a number of exhibits highlighting local life from prehistoric times to the present day.
1015 Sixth St. W., Palmetto, (941) 721-2034
The museum’s mission is to “preserve, share, and educate the community about Manatee County’s agricultural heritage and to support local agriculture now and in the future.”
515 10th Ave West, Palmetto, (941) 723-4991
Visitors can learn about the history of Palmetto and the surrounding areas on the north side of the Manatee River. The park offers a glimpse into the area’s old pioneer lifestyle with a turn-of-the-century cottage, the 1914 Carnegie Library, a replica of a chapel that once stood on the site, and other historic buildings.
255 Beach Drive NE, St. Petersburg, (727) 896-2667
The Museum of Fine Arts, aka the MFA, has something for everyone: a collection spanning nearly 5,000 years of human history; a sculpture garden; an art collection that includes pieces by Monet, O’Keeffe, de Kooning, Wiley and more; and a list of traveling exhibitions.
4800 Highway 301 North, Tampa, (813) 627-4225
A living history museum in Tampa located on the Florida State Fairgrounds, the museum includes 13 buildings constructed between 1870 and 1912 that were moved from across Florida and restored to provide a glimpse into life at the turn of the 20th century.
401 W. Kennedy Blvd., Tampa, (813) 254-1891
This Tampa museum was originally a hotel, built in 1891 by railroad magnate Henry B. Plant. It is now open to the public to experience the grandeur of the Victorian era, including restored rooms, antique furnishings and tropical gardens.
801 Water Street, Tampa, (813) 228-0097
Travel through thousands of years of local history, including a new exhibit titled Treasure hunters: conquistadors, pirates and shipwreckswhich features a 60-foot replica of an 18th-century pirate ship and rare artifacts salvaged from shipwrecks off the coast of Florida.
1818 E. 19th Avenue, Tampa, (813) 247-6323
Located in the historic district Ferlita Bakery– which made 300 to 500 loaves of Cuban bread every day from 1835 to 1973 – this museum examines the rich cultural history of the city of Ybor and the cigar-making industry. Enjoy self-guided exhibits with written and audio information, as well as a video presentation.
5401 Bay Shore Road, Sarasota, (941) 359-5700
While we’ve got you: This isn’t part of the Smithsonian’s Museums Day, but The Ringling is offering free admission to the Art Museum, Circus Museum and Gardens by the Bay as part of its “Extraordinary day”. Register here for free tickets, and you’ll also be entered to win a museum membership. (Watch our video on how to do the museum in 30 seconds or less here.)