1. Visual Arts

Free Museum Day returns to Tampa Bay

Here’s how to get free admission and discounts at nearly 20 local institutions.
Jean-Michel Basquiat (American, 1960-1988), Untitled (Word on Wood), 1985. Acrylic and oil stick on wood fence slats. 90 x 72 inches. Private collection. Photographer: Jeremy Scott. © Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat. Licensed by Artestar, New York. [Courtesy of Jeremy Scott]
Published Sep. 12
Updated Sep. 12

It’s that time again when Tampa Bay museums open their doors to everyone. And this year, there are two ways to see art for free.

A national Free Museum Day is Sept. 21, inspired by Smithsonian magazine’s Museum Day. Venues throughout the country participate, but you must get a ticket online first.

And St. Petersburg has its own Free Museum Day without a ticket requirement. Many of those venues are usually free anyway, but they are offering perks and other discounts. The Dalí Museum is offering free entry to Pinellas County residents, but others who buy admission will receive a voucher to come back.

You’ll have to be choosy. There are nearly 20 museums on the lists, and they will be crowded. Have a strategy if you try to hit a few.

RELATED: Fall Arts Preview: From Basquiat to augmented reality, what’s coming to Tampa Bay museums

If you’re in Tampa, check out the “Ordinary/Extraordinary: Assemblage in Three Acts” exhibition at the Tampa Museum of Art. The sublime trio of exhibits includes works from Jean-Michel Basquiat, self-taught artist Purvis Young and a collection of elaborate Haitian Vodou flags. Stop by the Tampa Bay History Center in Tampa to see a pirate ship, or see cool images of landmarks in the “Steven Wilkes: Day to Night” exhibit at the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts, also in Tampa.

Stephen Wilkes, Eiffel Tower, Paris, Day to Night™, 2013. [Courtesy of Stephen Wilkes]

At the Morean Arts Center in St. Petersburg, see the “Artificial Intelligence” robot show. A “Beautiful and Bizarre” figurative ceramics show is at Florida CraftArt in St. Petersburg, where you’ll get a 10 percent discount on purchases of $25 or more. And stop by the Carter G. Woodson African American Museum in St. Petersburg, where there’s an artist talk with Herb Snitzer and an instrument petting zoo with the Florida Orchestra.

"Beautiful & Bizarre: Figurative Ceramics Invitational" is on exhibit at Florida CraftArt through Oct. 20. Sculptures pictured are by, from left, Luke Huling, Soojin Choi and David Robinson. [Courtesy of Florida CraftArt]


You must get tickets for the following venues at

Florida Holocaust Museum, 55 Fifth St. S, St. Petersburg

Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg, 255 Beach Drive NE: 20 percent discount on memberships; origami folding activities.

Imagine Museum, 1901 Central Ave., St. Petersburg: First-floor galleries only; two bounce-back 50 percent discount coupons for a return visit; free gift with $25 purchase in the gift shop.

Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art, 600 Klosterman Road, Tarpon Springs

Cracker Country, 4800 U.S. 301, Tampa

Henry B. Plant Museum, 401 W Kennedy Blvd., Tampa

Tampa Bay History Center, 801 Old Water St., Tampa

Florida Museum of Photographic Arts, 200 N Tampa St., Tampa

Tampa Museum of Art, 120 W Gasparilla Plaza

Ringling Museum of Art, 5401 Bay Shore Road, Sarasota

Bishop Museum of Science and Nature, 201 10th St. W, Bradenton


Dalí Museum, 1 Dalí Blvd.: Free for Pinellas County residents.

James Museum of Western and Wildlife Art, 150 Central Ave.

Dr. Carter G. Woodson African American Museum, 2240 Ninth Ave. S

Florida CraftArt, 501 Central Ave.: 10 percent off all gallery purchases more than $25

Morean Arts Center and Glass Studio, 719 Central Ave.

Morean Art Center for Clay, 420 22nd St. S.

St. Pete Store, 100 Second Ave. NE: 10 percent off store purchases


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