5 Cultural Centres In Florida You Have To Check Out
While most people think of towering skyscrapers in massive downtown areas or sports stadiums, cultural centers are still a big part of a cityscape and play a very important role. The United States has plenty of cultural centers, especially in the state of Florida. Here are five of those that you have to check out when you’re in the biggest cities of the Sunshine State.
Perez Art Museum (Miami)
During the early 1970s, the city of Miami wanted to invest in the arts over the next decade, and a big part of that was the Miami-Dade Cultural Center. A major piece of the center was the development of the Miami Center for the Fine Arts, which was officially opened in 1984. It was the first building opened in the center, but it wasn’t until 1996 that fine art was collected and added to the building.
In the early 2010s, a new center was developed so that the museum could move to an upgraded location. With that, the Perez Art Museum Miami was established, opening in 2013. There are now around 2,000 works of art in the museum that gets around 200,000 visitors per year. That’s more than triple the amount of the old museum, showing that the relocation ended up being a great idea.
Museum of Fine Arts (St. Petersburg)
Margaret Acheson Stuart was an art collector who was able to establish a cultural center in the Tampa Bay area. In the early 1960s, the Museum of Fine Arts began construction in St. Petersburg on four acres of waterfront property. It took a few years for designers and constructors to make sure they got everything just right, and the MFA was opened to the public in 1965.
Since then, the MFA has become one of the most popular art destinations for Florida residents and visitors. In the mid-2000s, it became more of a cultural center thanks to an expansion that included more than just art. With painting classes and other programs, it’s a popular spot that’s run smoothly by director Kristen A. Shepherd. Though Stuart passed 15 years after the museum’s opening, the society that runs the museum is named after her, continuing her great artistic legacy.
Ringling Museum of Art (Sarasota)
Fully named the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, this Sarasota center was designed in the mid-1920s with John Ringling putting his other projects on hold so that he could fund this Italian-style museum. Though there were some hiccups along the way, the museum was finally opened for good in 1932. Ringling himself passed away just four years after the museum opened, but it has remained (and will always, contractually) named for him.
The Ringling Museum of Art became a staple of the Sarasota community almost immediately after its opening, and in 2000 was acquired by Florida State University. Since its transfer to FSU, the museum has seen a lot of expansion and renovation. Now spanning around 200,000 square feet, the Ringling Museum of Art has over 10,000 pieces in its collection that include everything from carved gems to trading cards.
Miami Children’s Museum (Miami)
Known as the Miami Youth Museum when it first opened in 1983, the Miami Children’s Museum began as a cultural outreach program that serves nearly 1 million youngsters in the metro area. Things started out small with a 2,000-square-foot building, then quickly moved to a building that was double in size.
After receiving grants to find a new location, the Miami Children’s Museum finally found a permanent home in 2003 on Watson Island. There are now more than a dozen galleries in the museum along with preschool classes and a large auditorium. The new building also increased attendance, with nearly a half-million yearly visitors.
Salvador Dali Museum (St. Petersburg)
Almost everyone knows who Salvador Dali is, as the famous Spanish painter left his mark on the art world during the 20th century. Dali may not have been from Florida, but the state houses one of the two museums that showcase his work alongside the other in Figueres, Spain. The St. Petersburg version of the Salvador Dali Museum was opened in 1982 and was much more subdued than the $30 million building that it’s housed in today.
The Dali Museum has hundreds of works created by the painter while also offering a lot of classes and public programs. It’s easy to spot the large glass building from a distance as the exterior is one of the most unique in all of St. Petersburg. The designer of the building, Yann Weymouth, said that his favorite part is the atrium space, “which is very three-dimensional and different from every viewpoint and at all times of day and night.”