The Tampa Bay History Center is a multistory complex located on the new riverwalk in downtown Tampa Bay, Florida. It is filled with exhibits dedicated to revealing Florida’s history from prehistoric times up until the recent past.
The first floor is almost entirely dedicated to Florida’s Native American history from ancient times until first contact with the earliest Spanish and French explorers. The “Winds of Change Theater” profiles the first European contacts in Florida beginning with Panfilo Narvaez’s landing near Tampa Bay in 1528. The “European Exploration” exhibit details the arrival of Spanish and French explorers who landed in Florida at the beginning of the 16th century.
The “Florida’s First People” exhibit features Tocobaga and Calusa artifacts including tools, weapons and pottery as well as original artwork by artist Theodore Morris. The History Center also features two exhibits about the Seminole and Miccosukee tribes who moved to Florida in the 1800s.
The “Charles E. Knight Gallery” showcases Seminole and Miccosukee clothing, patchwork, jewelry, baskets, tools and a replica chickee. The “Coacoochee’s Story Theater” immerses viewers in the riveting account of Seminole Chief Coacoochee’s experiences during the Second Seminole War.
The final exhibit on the first floor is “Cigar City.” “Cigar City” chronicles Tampa’s cigar industry and immigrant communities while featuring one of the most extensive cigar memorabilia collections in the world. Considering that tobacco was one of the most important Native American trade goods, it is fitting that it shares the first floor with the other Native American exhibits.
The second floor of the Tampa Bay History Center features exhibits that your kids will enjoy. “Cowmen & Crackers” showcases Florida’s cattle ranching history, putting viewers in the middle of an actual cattle drive. Your little one can climb up on a rocking saddle and pretend to ride along with the cowboys. Or they can stand next to a life-size replica of a long-horn Florida Cracker bull.
Other exhibits on the second floor include “Your Tampa Bay,” “Tampa Bay Timeline,” “A Place of Our Own,” “Year-Round Play,” “Witness to Change,” “War Stories,” “A Land Remembered,” and the “Touchton Map Gallery.” The museum also features traveling exhibits on the third floor.
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