The Tampa Museum of Art opened its award-winning new building in 2010 with a commitment to provide innovative public programs with a focus on ancient, modern, and contemporary art.
The Museum balances a growing collection, including one of the largest Greek and Roman antiquities collections in the southeastern United States, with a dynamic annual schedule of special exhibitions. The region’s largest institution devoted to the art of our time, the Museum has fostered a reputation for presenting contemporary photography and new media; most notably, Leo Villareal’s Sky (Tampa), a 14,000-square-foot LED installation on its south façade, has become an iconic landmark for Tampa.
Since its founding in 1979, the Museum has been dedicated to providing quality education to students and adults, with more than half of its programs offered free of charge. The Museum is home to Riverwalk Cafe at TMA, a Cafe featuring favorite local flavors overlooking the Hillsborough River, and has emerged as Tampa’s premier venue for special events.
In 2020, the Tampa Museum of Art will celebrate its 100th Anniversary, finding its historical roots in the community as the Tampa Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) in 1920. In 1923, the Tampa Art Institute emerged after a consolidation of the exhibition gallery efforts of the Tampa MFA and the studio art programs of the Student Arts Club. The Tampa Art Institute, which presented both exhibitions and studio art education programs, would remain active until 1967. In that year, the Tampa Art Institute reorganized itself as the Tampa Bay Art Center on the campus of the University of Tampa and would remain the regions cultural resource for ten years alongside of the Tampa Junior Museum, founded in 1958.
In 1977, the underpinnings of the Tampa Museum of Art were established as the result of cooperation among art organizations, private citizens and city government. The City of Tampa reached out to the Tampa Bay Art Center and the Tampa Junior Museum and requested they merge under a municipal operation as the Tampa Museum. In 1979 the museum opened to the public as the Tampa Museum Federation in a building funded by the City of Tampa. The museum was a joint venture of the City of Tampa, responsible for physical plant, operations and administration, security, and maintenance. The 501c3 Tampa Museum of Art owned the collections and was responsible for fundraising and programmatic oversight for exhibitions, programs, and acquisitions. Seven years later, in 1986, the name of the museum changed to the Tampa Museum of Art, the name of the support organization.
Over these early years, the purpose and direction of the museum became more focused. The museum acquired the Joseph Veach Noble Collection of Greek vases and two strong collections and exhibition focuses emerged in Antiquities and Contemporary art. To accommodate the growth of the collection and expanding the programming and staff, two additions to the building were accomplished. After modest additions to the Tampa Museum of Art in 1990 and 1994, the support Board in collaboration with the City decided to expand and relocate its facility. Discussions regarding this new building program began in 2000.
In 2006, the City and TMA’s Board of Trustees selected architect Stanley Saitowitz to build a new 66,000 square foot facility – Phase I of a two phase program – on a new site in Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park. In December 2007, the Museum relocated to interim quarters in Tampa and construction began in April 2008. The Tampa Museum of Art in 2009 then reorganized as a private and independent 501c3 and opened to the public on February 6, 2010. Today, the Tampa Museum of Art Board of Trustees governs the facility and all responsibilities regarding the Museum.