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Tampa Museum of Art receives $25 million gift for its expansion

It’s the largest private donation ever made to a public art museum and art education center in Florida.
This rendering shows the Tampa Museum of Art on the Riverwalk after its expansion.
This rendering shows the Tampa Museum of Art on the Riverwalk after its expansion. [ Courtesy of Weiss/Manfredi ]
Published Apr. 25|Updated Apr. 26

The Tampa Museum of Art just got $25 million closer to its planned expansion, thanks to a donation in that amount from Dick Corbett, CEO and president of Tampa-based real estate investment firm Concorde Cos.

It’s the largest donation made toward the museum’s Centennial Capital Campaign for expansion. The campaign launched in 2020 in celebration of the institution’s 100th anniversary.

“Dick Corbett became the lead gift and the benefactor of us moving (the expansion) forward,” said Michael Tomor, Ph.D., the Penny and Jeff Vinik Executive Director of the Tampa Museum of Art. “We see (him) as a major benefactor to the Centennial Campaign program.”

Cornelia and Dick Corbett at the Tampa Museum of Art in 2018. Dick Corbett made a $25 million donation to the museum's Centennial Capital Campaign for its expansion in 2022.
Cornelia and Dick Corbett at the Tampa Museum of Art in 2018. Dick Corbett made a $25 million donation to the museum's Centennial Capital Campaign for its expansion in 2022. [ STEHLIK FOTO | Courtesy of the Tampa Museum of Art ]

Corbett said the purpose of the gift was to challenge others to donate to the campaign, even if it’s not millions.

“My hope is that it will encourage others who have the means to give back to also join in and support the growth of the museum’s world-class exhibits and programs,” he said.

The gift makes history because it’s the largest private donation ever made to a public art museum and art education center in Florida. While other large donations have been made to museums in Florida, those have been a combination of cash and collections of art.

The donation will help the museum move swiftly to complete renovations that are currently underway, which relocates existing space to create more room for exhibitions and educational facilities. It’s expected to be finished in July. Tomor said the educational facility will be finished in June, and they have already more than doubled the amount of camps and classes to offer.

Related: Tampa Museum of Art announces renovation plans
Related: Tampa Museum of Art announces plans for expansion

The expansion will increase the museum’s overall area from 69,000 to 120,000 square feet and expand its exhibition and collections space from 14,800 square feet to 43,000 square feet.

It will more than triple available event space. The expansion includes a glass cantilever structure that appears to reach out over the Hillsborough River, taking event space from 7,200 to 25,600 square feet.

The expansion will also add more public restaurant and retail store space.

A key part of the expansion is a 10,000-square-foot education center, allowing the museum to serve 24,000 Hillsborough County school students annually.

The expansion is expected to break ground in the next eight to 10 months.

Corbett has developed, financed and constructed more than $1 billion in complex real estate ventures. Those include International Plaza and Bay Street, in partnership with Taubman Centers.

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He and his wife, Cornelia, have been committed to education and children for decades, by financially supporting Tampa’s Independent Day School, which was renamed Corbett Preparatory School in 2012.

It was the connection with the school that led the Corbetts to become interested in exposing children to art. They have been involved with the Tampa Museum of Art for more than 20 years, Corbett said, with Cornelia serving on its board. He said she is the driving force behind the gift.

“The hope was to have kids get exposure so that younger people could really appreciate the arts,” Corbett said.

$71.5 million of the expansion’s $100 million goal has been raised, Tomor said.

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