We have nine museums in our west-central Florida region, so anyone reading this is guaranteed proximity to at least one of them. That is not to imply that you should limit yourself to the museum nearest you because each has a distinct mission and offers a unique experience.
Looking for trends in this annual preview of special exhibitions is a somewhat artificial exercise because generally museums don't coordinate their shows. But you will see that most of the museums have at least one exhibition that spotlights works that are recent gifts. Not a trend so much as a wonderful testimonial to people's generosity.
All have permanent collections that aren't listed in this preview of special exhibitions but, depending on the size of the museum and depth of the collection, the emphasis they're given varies. In all cases, though, they're worth repeated explorations.
This is not a complete list. The Salvador Dalí Museum has not confirmed the expected Jeff Koons exhibition. Museum spokeswoman Cindy Cockburn said, "The artist has simultaneous exhibitions in Basel and Frankfurt, and we needed some of those works, which has complicated the exhibition arrangements." Deputy director Kathy White said, "It is most likely at this point that the Jeff Koons show will either be postponed, or the details will be very last-minute."
And the Tampa Museum of Art isn't releasing a schedule beyond its fall show of works by photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson. No official reason is being given, but exhibitions being considered probably aren't under contracts yet and can't be discussed.
There is plenty, though, that is certain and I'm looking forward to a visually exciting year.
Lennie Bennett can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 893-8293.
John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art
5401 Bay Shore Road, Sarasota
(941) 359-5700 or ringling.org
Through Oct. 28
Deco Japan: Shaping Art and Culture 1920-45
This fascinating collection of decorative objects, furniture, prints and paintings dispels the often-held assumption that Japan before World War II was culturally isolationist.
Through July 28
Mythic Creatures of China
From the Ringling's collection of Chinese ceramics, this group of 100 objects focuses on animal portrayals.
Nov. 9 through Feb. 3
The Warren J. and Margot Coville Photography Collection
The museum's photography department got a big boost with the gift of this collection of 700 works by photographers such as Henri Cartier-Bresson, André Kertész, Alfred Eisenstaedt, Berenice Abbott and Robert Capa, and a portion of them will be on view in this exhibition.
Dec. 7 through April 14
Paolo Veronese: A Master and His Workshop in Renaissance Venice
Veronese is, along with Titian and Tintoretto, the greatest painter of the 16th century's Venetian Renaissance. This exhibition, organized by the Ringling, has 35 paintings plus more than 30 drawings and prints. His genius as a colorist can be seen in Rest on the Flight Into Egypt, a beloved member of the permanent collection and the first Old Master work John Ringling purchased.
Feb. 23 through May 19
HERB RITTS: L.A. Style
Herb Ritts was one of the A-list celebrity and fashion photographers before his death in 2002 from an AIDS-related illness. His glamor, creativity and technical prowess will be on view in this exhibition that includes prints, magazine covers and commercial videos.
Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg
255 Beach Drive NE
(727) 896-2667 or fine-arts.org
Through Oct. 14
Global + Local
This survey of international studio glass art is conveyed through the prism of Tampa Bay area collectors.
Through Sept. 30
Sitter and Subject in Nineteenth Century Photography
Photographic portraits became one of the most popular uses for the new medium because of their low cost (as opposed to a painting) as seen in this collection of daguerreotypes, ambrotypes and tintypes.
Nov. 3 through Feb. 17
The Art of Golf
This should be a popular show. It's a chronological approach to the game as documented by artists over several centuries, beginning with kolf, a cousin of the modern game, in 17th century Dutch landscape and genre paintings. Some of the best are from the 18th and 19th centuries, when it became an aristocratic pastime in Great Britain. Featured artists include Rembrandt, Childe Hassam, Norman Rockwell and Charles Lees. It was organized by the High Museum of Art in Atlanta and the National Galleries of Scotland.
Sept. 8 through Feb. 2
Contemporary Prints by American Women: A Selection From the Gift of Martha and Jim Sweeny
Women historically haven't been given their due as artists — "women artists" instead of artists who happen to be women — and this exhibition is a good primer for the influence many women exerted during the latter half of the 20th century, with artists such as Helen Frankenthaler, Nancy Graves, Elaine de Kooning, Yvonne Jacquette, Lois Lane, Sylvia Mangold, Joan Mitchell, Elizabeth Murray and Louise Nevelson.
March 2 through June 16
Philip Pearlstein's People, Places, Things
Pearlstein is a contemporary painter whose uncompromising figurative works, especially his nudes, have made him one of the most important realist artists of the 20th century. This is the most comprehensive retrospective ever organized with more than 60 paintings, drawings and prints.
1 Dalí Blvd., St. Petersburg
(727) 823-3767 or thedali.org
Oct. 1 through March
The Royal Inheritance: Dalí Works From the Spanish National Collection
Madrid's Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía inherited a trove of works by Salvador Dalí when he died, and 12 works never exhibited in the United States will be on loan to the Dalí Museum.
Tampa Museum of Art
120 W Gasparilla Plaza
(813) 274-8130 or tampamuseum.org
Through Sept. 16
A Hundred Years — A Hundred Chairs
Masterworks From the Vitra Design Museum
This sprightly show leads us through 10 decades of culture and taste as reflected in how we take our seats.
Through Sept. 9
Masterworks of 20th Century Sculpture From the Martin Z. Margulies Collection
A continuing relationship with the distinguished collector brings another selection of his artworks to the museum.
Through Sept. 9
Art of the Poison Pens: A Century of American Political Cartoons
Artists skewer politicians over a 100-year period with styles changing but never the point.
Oct. 6 through Jan. 13
The Man, the Image & the World: Henri Cartier-Bresson, A Retrospective
Cartier-Bresson is one of the most influential photographers of all time, often described as the Father of Photojournalism. This comprehensive exhibition, in its only U.S. venue, includes more than 300 works, all chosen by the photographer before his death at 95 in 2004.
University of South Florida Contemporary Art Museum
4202 E Fowler Ave., Tampa
(813) 974-2849 or usfcam.usf.edu
Through Dec. 15
Andy Warhol Legacy Project
The show represents a 2008 gift from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts of 106 Polaroids and 50 gelatin silver prints and demonstrates the pop artist's diverse interests in cultural life.
Through Dec. 15
The Importance of Being Photographed
This group exhibition complements the Warhol show, using as an unlikely link the 19th century playwright Oscar Wilde and his most famous work, The Importance of Being Earnest.
Jan. 18 through March 9
Robert Rauschenberg was an early and enthusiastic supporter of USF's Graphicstudio and arts program, and this show pays homage to him and his important 1966 performance presentations, 9 Evenings: Theatre and Engineering. It's a group show with participatory installationsons, videos, sculpture and projections.
April 5 through May 4
2013 MFA Graduation Exhibition
This annual exhibition features master of fine arts candidates in the school of art and art history.
June through July
Occupying, Building, Thinking: Poetic and Discursive Perspectives on Contemporary Cuban Video Art (1990-2010)
This cerebral title belies what looks to be an emotionally powerful show with Cuban video artists interpreting their idea of what it means to occupy a place in a country where personal freedom is minimal.
Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art
600 Klosterman Road, Tarpon Springs
(727) 712-5762 or spcollege.edu/museum
Through Oct. 7
A Modern Legacy: Contemporary Art From the Gulf Coast Museum Collection
When the Gulf Coast Museum of Art closed, its collection came to St. Petersburg College and the Leepa-Rattner Museum. The museum has exhibited that collection in various arrangements since then and this is the newest installment.
Oct. 28 through Jan. 6
The French Connection: Prints From the Caroline Adams Byrd-Denjoy Collection
A group of 48 prints created between 1947 and 2005 by 36 French and expatriate artists working in Paris print ateliers has been culled from a much larger collection given to the museum.
Oct. 28 through Feb. 10
Songs From the Sea: Bronze Sculptures by David Smalley
The terrace of the museum, which resembles the prow of a ship, has always provided a pleasant vista but for the first time it will be used as an exhibition space with seven bronzes relating to sunken ships.
Jan. 20 through Feb. 10
38th annual International Miniature Art Society of Florida Exhibition
Only the Miniature Art Society could present a show with more than 1,000 works, and it's always a popular one. Magnifiers provided.
Feb. 24 through April 21
Tableaux, Metaphors and Passages: Environments by Maria Albornoz, Jack King and Randall Smith
These three contemporary artists work in ceramics, installation, sculpture and photography.
May 5 through July 7
Henry and Abe: Finding America
In their famous three-month road trip of 1940, author Henry Miller and artist Abraham Rattner rambled from New York to New Iberia, La. Rattner documented the trip with hundreds of drawings and watercolors.
Florida Museum of Photographic Arts
400 N Ashley Drive, Tampa
(813) 221-2222 or fmopa.org
Through Oct. 14
America's Civil War: Selections From the Drapkin Collection and Larry West
The show is an excellent representation of this historical period when photography was a young medium and its documentary potential evolving.
Through Nov. 11
Portraits of Power: Photography by Platon
Platon Antoniou, staff photographer for New Yorker magazine, took on a remarkable project in 2009 in which he planned to photograph world leaders while they were in New York for a meeting at the United Nations. He set up a small studio near the General Assembly and had each one come for a brief session. Some declined (President Barack Obama, for example) but most (44 total) participated. Even with such a rapid, quick-forward approach, the portraits are remarkable in teasing out the personal qualities of each individual.
Oct. 18 through Jan. 6
Cuba 1999-2000: Photographs by Mario Algaze
Algaze, who was born in Cuba but came to the United States in 1960, combines a haunting lyricism with street smarts in his cityscapes. This collection was created when he returned to Cuba for the first time in 40 years.
Nov. 15 through Jan. 27
Dorothea Lange's America
Lange was an early pioneer of photojournalism whose most famous work was her documentation of the devastating effects of the Depression.
Jan. 31 through March 31
A Couple of Ways of Doing Something: Photography by Chuck Close, Poetry by Bob Holman
Close almost single-handedly redefined photography-based portraiture in the 1990s and he is still experimenting. For this show, he uses many of his artist friends for portraits using the daguerreotype as a starting point, accompanied by poems by New York School poet Holman.
Polk Museum of Art
800 E Palmetto St., Lakeland
(863) 688-7743 or polkmuseumofart.org
Through Oct. 13
Invisible Elephant: New Works by Theo Wujcik and Kirk Ke Wang
A collaboration between the two artists is based on the parable of the blind men and the elephant.
Sept. 8 through Nov. 11
Miscellaneous: Sculptures by Trent Manning
Manning's whimsical sculptures made from found objects won him the coveted Best of Show prize at the 2012 Gasparilla Festival of the Arts.
Oct. 27 through Jan. 12
In Vibrant Color: Vintage Celebrity Portraits From the Harry Warnecke Studio
The photojournalist snapped hundreds of celebrity portraits during a long career and much of his portfolio was given to the Smithsonian Institution by his widow. This exhibition of 24 color photographs from the 1930s and 1940s includes one of Lucille Ball.
Oct. 20 through Jan. 12
The permanent collection is celebrated in conjunction with the upcoming publication of its first collections catalog.
Jan. 19 through April 20
No Ordinary Days: Works by Maggie Taylor
Maggie Taylor is a pioneer in creating now-popular photographic prints that collage old images into mysterious narratives. She's also a pioneer in the use of scanners to make them. This exhibition is a survey of Taylor's work and will coincide with the release of her new book, No Ordinary Days.
Jan. 19 through April 20
Coincidence: Works by Louviere+Vanessa
Another interesting exhibition of photography-based prints that manipulate images of fantasy and complexity from Vanessa Brown and Jeff Louviere.
Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art
445 N Park Ave., Winter Park
(407) 645-5311 or morsemuseum.org
Opening Oct. 23 and ongoing
Lockwood de Forest's The Wreck
The Orientalist-style painting (circa 1880) is a recent gift from the great-granddaughter of the painter, who was a friend of Louis Comfort Tiffany. It will be featured along with studies and background material at the museum.
Opening Oct. 23 and ongoing
Secrets of Tiffany Glassmaking
Many of Tiffany's processes used to create his beautiful decorative objects were closely held secrets, but this updated teaching exhibit explains them using the objects themselves, tools and photographs.
Oct. 23 through Jan. 6
The Morse Museum's collection continues to grow and examples of new additions include Roseville pottery, paintings and a vintage gold wristwatch from Tiffany & Co.
Opening Feb. 12
Art Nouveau From the Morse Collection
Art nouveau was a popular movement in the early 19th century and one of its finest interpreters was Louis Comfort Tiffany. Ceramics, furniture and other decorative objects in that style will be featured.
Feb. 12 through Oct. 6
The Art of Fountain Pens
They are now quaint objects of times past but from the 19th to early 20th century, fountains were a part of daily life. (And, until cartridges were invented, lots of ink-stained clothes, upholstery and furniture.) Many were much more than merely functional, transformed into beautifully crafted objects, and they still are for the rare few who continue to collect and use them. This collection dates from 1875 to 1975.