Another piece of Tampa's downtown riverfront falls into place today with the opening of the Glazer Children's Museum. It is a kid city of imagination and hands-on experience that will draw visitors to come again and again. It is just the latest attraction to showcase downtown and the newly renovated public square, Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park.
Tampa has had mini-theme parks for children for decades, but this museum is the city's first big-budget attempt to unleash a child in an artistic setting. The exhibits are interactive and downright fun. Children can pilot a boat through the channel, make fake food and slide down a pole at the fire station. The 12 theme areas and 170 activities offer something for everyone, from art and nature to sports.
What children aren't told, though, is that they'll learn while having fun. A hospital and sports center will teach them about health. They can see how things work by building bridges and homes and flying an airplane. They can follow a drop of water on the 35-foot structure, Water's Journey, which follows the cycle of water from the aquifer to the clouds — and back to the Florida watershed.
The museum has its mission straight. It also is a testament to how public-private partnerships can work. The city provided the land at Curtis Hixon Park, on the riverfront side of Ashley Drive. Hillsborough County chipped in $3 million. Private donors took responsibility for the remaining $17 million in costs. The Glazer family, which owns the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, earned naming rights by being the single-largest benefactor, donating $5 million.
Thanks to efforts by the city, county and the private sector, families in the Tampa Bay area and beyond have a wholesome new experience to enjoy. And downtown Tampa has another dimension to the waterfront, already enriched by the new arts museum, Riverwalk and history center. These civic projects are a source of pride that foster a sense of ownership in our community.