Best Museums/Galleries
Image by Taty2007 under Creative Commons License.

Best Museums/Galleries, Saint Petersburg, Florida (A)

Welcome to the downtown St. Petersburg Gallery & Museum Walk. My name is Shirley Linde. I am an author here in town and live on Beach Dr. so you will get an insider’s view of the area. St. Petersburg is known as The City for the Arts. The most and the greatest of the museums and galleries are in the downtown area, with the biggest concentration of all being along Beach Drive. This is where our walking tour will be. Let’s get started!
This article is featured in the app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" on iTunes App Store and Google Play. You can download the app to your mobile device to read the article offline and create a self-guided walking tour to visit the attractions featured in this article. The app turns your mobile device into a personal tour guide and it works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

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Walk Route

Guide Name: Best Museums/Galleries
Guide Location: USA » Saint Petersburg
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Article (A))
# of Attractions: 16
Tour Duration: 2.0 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 8.1 Km or 5 Miles
Author: Shirley Linde
Author Bio: Shirley Linde is a well-known author whose books have been translated into many languages around the world. She lives in downtown St. Petersburg.
Author Website: http://www.shirleylinde.com www.smallshipcruises.com www.cruiserecipes.net www.medicalinformationcenter.org
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • St. Petersburg Museum of History
  • Museum of Fine Arts
  • Renaissance Vinoy Resort
  • The Chihuly Collection
  • Finn Gallery
  • Shapiro’s Gallery
  • Trinity Gallery
  • Red Cloud Indian Arts Gallery
  • Vladimir’s Collection
  • The Ovation Block
  • Salvador Dali Museum
  • Holocaust Museum
  • Morean Art Center
  • The 600 Block
  • Florida Craftsmen
  • The Pier
1
St. Petersburg Museum of History

1) St. Petersburg Museum of History

If you are a history buff, you will want to see this museum that chronicles the history of St. Petersburg and surrounding area. There are thousands of artifacts, and archives of some 8,000 historic photos as well as revolving current exhibits. A Learning Center offers facilities for use by schools in teaching local history. A public reading room includes computer access to the museum’s collection of rare historic photos. Highlight is a replica of the world’s first commercial airplane that flew across the Bay between St. Petersburg and Tampa. The children will enjoy the 3,000-year-old mummy and the artifacts from the early native Tocobaga people, including arrowheads and a dugout canoe. The museum is closed on Monday and Tuesday, open 10 to 4 Wednesday through Saturday and from 1 to 4 on Sunday. Admission is $9, discounts for seniors, students, and children. Admission is only $5 on Saturdays.
2
Museum of Fine Arts

2) Museum of Fine Arts

By the Museum of Fine Arts the huge tree you see is a Kapok, native to South America, Central America and the Caribbean, also known as the Silk-cotton tree. It is a sacred symbol in Maya mythology. The Museum has a large collection of art ranging from antiquities to contemporary art. You can see works by Cezanne, Monet, Renoir, Rodin, Whistler, Bellows, O’Keefe, and Wyeth, as well as early Native American, pre-Columbian, Greek, Roman, Asian, and African art. Be sure to take time for the Steuben glass gallery and for sitting for a moment in the gardens or on the terrace overlooking the bay. The Museum opened in 1965, then doubled in size in 2008 when a new wing was donated by a local resident named Hazel Hough. She and her husband Bill have donated generously to many of the arts in St. Petersburg. There are guided tours. You can get a snack or lunch at the Café. There are jazz concerts on many Friday nights. The Museum is open from 10 to 5 Tuesday through Saturday, 1-5 on Sundays. It is closed on Mondays. $12 admission, discounts for seniors, students and groups. Check out the gift shop on your way out.
3
Renaissance Vinoy Resort

3) Renaissance Vinoy Resort

This historic hotel, an excellent example of Mediterranean Revival architecture, has quite a background. It was built in 1925, and was a popular destination for wealthy travelers and celebrities coming to Florida. During World War II the hotel served as a cooking and baking school for the US Army, later during the ’40s and ’50s it returned to being an important St. Petersburg social center. However it slowly declined and in 1974 its doors were closed and it became a haunt of the homeless, a dilapidated building with broken windows, doors and a terrible stench. In the early 1990s Renaissance Hotels and Resorts and a development company spent two years and $94 million to renovate the hotel and bring it back to its original glory. I came in to see it in hard hat while it was being finished. Be sure to see the ballroom directly ahead when you enter the lobby and note the old original beams in the ceiling and the Chihuly chandelier. To the left of the lobby you will see an exhibit with photos of the original hotel and samples of dishes, silverware and other artifacts. On the pool deck are nice waterfalls and a good view. You can take a guided tour Wednesday through Saturday at 10:30 AM. You can eat at Marchand’s off the lobby or upstairs on the pool deck.
4
The Chihuly Collection

4) The Chihuly Collection

This gallery, just opened in 2010, houses a collection of works by world-renowned artist Dale Chihuly. You will recognize it by the 20-foot red sculpture outside called the Florida Rose Crystal Tower. The neighborhood calls it the Red Icicle. Chihuly lives and works in Seattle, but was so impressed with St. Petersburg when he had an exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts that he decided to set up a permanent gallery here. His work is known all over the world. While in Venice, he observed the team approach to blowing glass, and his works today usually involve a team of glass artisans. In the gallery look for some of his typical forms: Baskets, based on the woven forms of Northwest Coast Indian baskets; Persians, with spiraling and herringbone effects often mounted onto walls and ceilings; Seaforms that mimic underwater life; Chandeliers with hundreds of elements of glass attached to a stainless steel armature; and Boats, a design that followed when Chihuly in Finland and in Venice after several days of glassblowing tossed glass into the river, letting it float downstream and local children in wooden rowboats gathered it. In this same project his Chandeliers were suspended over the canals and piazzas of Venice. The gallery is open after 10 a.m. Monday through Saturday and from noon until 6 on Sunday. There are docent tours. Gallery admission is $15, discounts for seniors, students and children. There also is a retail store.
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Finn Gallery

5) Finn Gallery

Up 4th Ave. a short way is the Finn Gallery. The only artist featured there is P. Buckley Moss. She is known for her Christmas holiday cards and ornaments and stylized winter snow scenes that are sold in many galleries across the U.S. This is her major gallery and has the most comprehensive collection of P. Buckley Moss artwork in the nation. Her residence is in the little building next door. In the gallery, you can view and purchase originals, reproductions and limited editions and also have your purchase framed. The gallery is open Monday through Friday 10 to 6 and Saturday 10 to 5. It is closed on Sundays.
6
Shapiro’s Gallery

6) Shapiro’s Gallery

Just a block from the Chihuly Collection is Shapiro’s Gallery. It has handcrafted contemporary American blown glass, jewelry, clay, wood and metal works and is open daily. Owners Sue and Mike Shapiro have been involved in the craft field for over 30 years and are committed to promoting contemporary handmade American craftwork. The collection includes some interesting wooden boxes, jewelry boxes, clocks, Judaica, metal sculpture and home accessories from many craft studios. They are open every day: From 11 A.M. to 9 P.M. Monday through Thursday; Friday and Saturday from 11 A.M. to 10 P.M., and Sunday from 11:30 A.M. to 6:30 P.M.
7
Trinity Gallery

7) Trinity Gallery

What a treat to stroll along Beach Drive enjoying the shops and outdoor restaurants. So many restaurants, so many shops, so many galleries! Don’t miss the Trinity Gallery, a tiny nearly hidden one-window shop. When you step in you will find walls covered with paintings, layer after layer of 18th, 19th and early 20th century European and American oil paintings, watercolors, drawings, and photographs, with a variety of bronzes, sculpture, antiques in every corner, and on one wall a case of designer jewelry. There is also African and pre-Columbian art. Owner Allan Abrams will greet you warmly and show you around. Trinity Gallery has been in the antique business for 40 years. It started in New York, was in the 80's and has been in St Petersburg for 14 years. Art and antiques are their passion, and you will find their gallery topsy turvy full of eclectic variety. Abrams works with dealers or the public, gives free appraisals, and says he “always looking for artist estates”. All the works are authenticated.
8
Red Cloud Indian Arts Gallery

8) Red Cloud Indian Arts Gallery

Opened in 1987, this gallery has art and jewelry made by Native Americans, including jewelry, pottery, paintings, graphic arts, kachinas, zuni festishes, sculptures, weavings, bronzes, and Oaxaca carvings. Featured artists are from tribes all over North America as well as from Central and South America cultures. You will find everything from a full chief headdress to hand-crafted gold and silver jewelry, whale bone carvings, seed pots and jars, and carved wooden animals. The gallery also will assist people with private collecting. Gallery hours are Monday through Saturday from 10 to 5.
9
Vladimir’s Collection

9) Vladimir’s Collection

This shop has the Russian art work of Vladimir Malkin. He has a collection of Russian folk art, plus Soviet-era relics and his own jewelry and enamel works. St. Petersburg Florida is sister city to St. Petersburg, Russia so it is especially significant to have the gallery here. Vladimir was born in Moscow, came to the U.S. in 1991, and now runs the gallery/shop with his wife Galina. Be sure to look at the amber and the pendants in the style of Faberge.

Across the street is the Baywalk shopping complex. The Muvico Theaters there have some foreign and independent films worth seeing some evening.
10
The Ovation Block

10) The Ovation Block

Ovation is a new condominium building. As you walk along the front of the building on 2nd Ave. you will see the Mindy Solomon Gallery that has offbeat art, including paintings and photographs depicting provocative nudity and bodily functions that some consider bold and many consider offensive. I don’t want to go into detail. But don’t take the kids. The exhibitions change every six weeks, and include similar works in clay. You can peek in the large windows to see if you like it. Also peek into the entrance lobby at Ovation as you go by to see some of their works on display for the owners of these upscale condo homes. At the corner of 2nd Ave. and Beach Drive, you will see a new art piece at the promenade of Ovation called the O Wave, designed by Gordon Huether of Napa, California.

The next condominium building on Beach Dr. is the Florencia – wave as you go by, that’s where I live. Across the street is the well-known St. Petersburg Yacht Club. As you walk south along the waterfront you may see planes taking off and landing at Albert Whitted Airport and on your right you will pass the old Al Lang Baseball Stadium and the Mahaffey Theatre.
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Salvador Dali Museum

11) Salvador Dali Museum

This exciting new Dali museum, which opened in January 2011, has a huge collection of works by Dali and the most valuable collection, estimated at $125 million. For art lovers it is reason enough to visit downtown St. Petersburg. In fact, some 500,000 visitors are expected to come to the museum this year. The museum houses Dali’s works in many media -- oil paintings, watercolors, drawings, graphics, posters, sculptures, and many of his world-famous masterworks. And the building itself is a work of art, with a geodesic glass feature flowing over the building outside and a helical spiral staircase inside vaulting 3 floors high and resembling a strand of DNA. Dali was without doubt a genius already exhibiting his works at age 14, but he often was (and is still sometimes) misunderstood. We recommend that you go through the museum on a docent tour to hear the stories behind his paintings and better understand them and the symbolism in them. Dali spent much of his boyhood at the family's summer home in the coastal village of Cadaques in Spain, and many paintings reflect this area. When he was 22, he met Pablo Picasso and became part of the surrealists’ group in Paris. And there he met Gala, who appeared in many of his paintings and was a lifelong love until she died in 1982. As Dali moved away from Surrealism, he began a series of large canvasses, many with scientific, historical or religious themes. Among the best known are The Hallucinogenic Toreador and The Discovery of America by Christopher Columbus, both in the museum's collection. Be sure to see them. Much of the museum collection was donated by A. Reynolds Morse and his wife Eleanor who were friends of Dali for many years. At age 79 Dali painted his last work. He died in 1989 at age 85.

The Museum is open daily from 10 A.M. to 5:30 P.M., from noon on Sundays. There are discounts for seniors, children, students, teachers and groups. Thursday nights it is open till 8 and admission is reduced. Thre are also films, lectures, and concerts open to the public.

The museum is between Bayshore and Beach Dr at 4th Ave.S and shares a lovely garden area with the Mahaffey Theater ovrlooking Tampa Bay.

When you leave Dali, on 2nd Ave, is the Water Wall at Signature Place Condominium that is worth stopping to see. The modern wing-shaped 36-story-high condominium opened in 2010. If you are there on a Friday evening, there may be a group playing music on the grass lawn.
12
Holocaust Museum

12) Holocaust Museum

The Holocaust Museum was designed to honor the memory of some 11 million men, women and children who died in the Holocaust from 1933 to 1945. It has art and other exhibits about the Holocaust and its sufferers, provides teacher training and community outreach on the facts on genocide throughout the world, and sponsors programs on human rights awareness and education. The museum has a permanent history exhibit on the first floor, including boxcar #11306955 that transported so many persons to their deaths. There are messages from Holocaust and other genocide survivors, as well as facts on resistance fighters and other heroes who helped despite the risks. There are art exhibits on the second and third floors, as well as a library. The exhibits are graphic and will tear at your soul, but the museum philosophy is to use the lessons of the past to help eliminate prejudice, hatred and racism today. The museum is open Monday through Friday from 10 to 5, and Saturday and Sunday noon to 5. Admission is $8, with a discount for seniors, students, and groups.
13
Morean Art Center

13) Morean Art Center

With roots dating back to 1917, the Morean Arts Center has focused on an innovative community-oriented approach to art and arts education. Beth Ann Morean, an artist, was a key benefactor. It is known as one of the most successful visual arts organizations in the region, offering studio classes in virtually every visual medium – painting, drawing, clay, metal, printmaking, mixed media, jewelry, ceramics, digital photography, – with classes for both adults and children, even at kindergarden age. It has five galleries and has rotating contemporary art exhibitions. They have a summer art camp for children from age 5 to 15, serving some 1500 children each year. There is also a gallery gift shop. The center was greatly involved in presenting the Chihuly Collection Gallery on Beach Drive and because of the great interest in glass art, recently opened a Glass Studio & Hot Shop, offering guests the opportunity to see live glass-blowing demonstrations and to take classes in glass blowing. The center is open Monday through Saturday from 10 to 5, Sunday noon to 4. Admission is $8, discounts for seniors, students, children.
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The 600 Block

14) The 600 Block

On Central all along the 600 block are small studios for artists and art-related stores. The area had been abandoned when a building development failed, then several citizens put in some time and money and worked with the city and the owner of the building to allow artists to come in, and now it is filled with galleries and shops all along the north side of the street. There is Studio 620 Annex, Sebastian Thomas, Dazzio and Donna Gordon galleries and many others. Be sure to check out in the middle of the block a historic arcade, called Crislip Arcade. Most of the galleries in the 600 block are open till 9 p.m. for St. Petersburg’s Art Walk on the second Saturday of each month. This entire area and all the downtown galleries are jumping with activity on those Saturday nights, and the Looper trolley makes stops throughout the area to make gallery-hopping easy.
15
Florida Craftsmen

15) Florida Craftsmen

The Florida Craftsmen Gallery is the headquarters for this statewide association of Florida craft artists and showcases more than 250 contemporary craft artists. The association has exhibitions of hand-made creations of Florida artists as well as workshops and educational programs for local residents at this location and also around the state. The gallery/shop is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and from 12 to 4 on Sundays, with longer hours during December to give you plenty of opportunity to purchase authentic Florida craft and art. They also hold an annul CraftArt Festival.

To get back to the Pier we suggest you save your feet and catch the Central Avenue Shuttle Trolley, going east. It will drop you all the way out at the end of the Pier.
16
The Pier

16) The Pier

If you are tired you can get off the trolley at your Pier parking lot, or you can stay on the trolley and go all the way out to the end of the Pier and enjoy the sea breeze. The first St. Petersburg Pier built in 1889 was a railroad pier; a pier for the public was opened in 1896. A pier with a casino was built in 1926, and the current funky upside-down pyramid was built in 1973. The City Council has voted to demolish the present Pier in a few years and build a new shorter one, so to visit now will give you a bit of history. Got ideas on what should be there? Let the City Council know – they are looking for input. At the Pier you can visit the Aquarium with exhibits on marine life, fishing, and local world-class marine research. For kids: a Touch Tank Experience from 1 to 4 p.m. Fish and shark feeding is at 3. Also at the Pier you can visit the Crystal Mirage Gallery with contemporary glass or talk to the artifact hunter who runs Lost in Time. He has everything from shark teeth to arrowheads and other Indian artifacts.There is also a little gallery that specializes in Croatian Naïve Art. This art -- reverse glass painting -- is done by painting with oils on a piece of glass, with the artist painting the foreground first, then background layers. On Sunday afternoons at the Pier is a band, on Wednesdays a dance,sometimess salsa and zumba. Be sure to take the elevator to the top deck for a grand view of the city. You can take the free Looper trolley to go back to your parking lot. If you are going to a local downtown hotel or elsewhere, check out the other trolleys that stop at the Pier. The security officer or a valet attendant will help you pick the correct trolley.

This has been fun. I hope you enjoyed the tour. Do check out the other tour apps for St. Petersburg.
Image by Raman Patel under Creative Commons License.