No one could have predicted that a pandemic would force museums to shut down earlier this year. But it did, and Tampa Bay museums pivoted to keep their audiences engaged online, establishing content to feed art lovers’ souls while it was impossible to get that fix in person.
Now that museums are back open, or will reopen soon, the way the pandemic affected their exhibition schedules is evident. Many that were planned had to be canceled or put on hold. Some exhibitions were held over from last season, giving viewers a chance to catch ones they missed or revisit a favorite, like a cool installation about cotton or one that celebrates female sculptors and print makers.
But some that were planned did make it, including a body of work by contemporary artist Derrick Adams that shows us an alternative narrative to Black life, images of a gay rodeo by Blake Little and a celebration of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.
But even with the large curveball thrown by the pandemic, museum curators and directors were able to create a robust season, often by drawing from their permanent collections and presenting objects in new ways. Or they show us rarely seen works, like Dalí‘s prints produced late in his career.
The turbulent nature of 2020 has also inspired museums to address the zeitgeist. There are online exhibitions created in direct response to COVID-19, many that showcase artists of color, a few on elections and some that celebrate the anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote.
And while the Carter G. Woodson African American Museum remains closed, history was made there this summer with the installation of a Black Lives Matter mural on the street in front of the museum. The street remains closed to traffic, making the frequently visited mural an outdoor exhibition.
Originally scheduled for this summer, “Skyway: A Contemporary Collaboration,” an exhibition that puts local artists in multiple museums, will happen in summer 2021. It takes place simultaneously at the Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg, the Tampa Museum of Art, the Ringling Museum and, new this time, the University of South Florida Contemporary Art Museum.
Art fans have been anticipating the opening of the Museum of the American Craft Movement in St. Petersburg. According to stpetecatalyst.com, the museum’s opening has been put on hold because the interior is not ready and COVID-19 is making the timeline difficult to predict. Rudy Ciccarello, the museum’s founder, said in an email that there aren’t any exhibitions planned for fall but did not confirm that the museum’s opening has been put on hold.
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Galleries have found safe ways to operate, with online opening receptions and viewing by appointment.
Art festivals are also returning to Tampa Bay. The Shine Mural Festival brings more colorful walls to St. Petersburg Nov. 7-14, and fine craft artists from across the country join the CraftArt Festival Nov. 21-22. Tampa’s Gasparilla Festival of the Arts is also a go for March 6-7.
Here’s what Tampa Bay museums have to offer for the fall and beyond.
MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS, ST. PETERSBURG
255 Beach Drive NE, St. Petersburg. (727) 896-2667. mfastpete.org.
The museum opens to the public on Sept. 19. There will be timed ticketing and admission tickets must be reserved in advance. New safety guidelines to protect staff and guests due to COVID-19, including wearing a mask and new hours of operation, will also be in place. The MFA Cafe and the gift shop will not be reopening. The museum offers extensive online content in the Museum From Home program, including art, videos, activities and a book club.
Derrick Adams: Buoyant (Sept. 19-Nov. 29)
Contemporary artist Adams focuses on under-represented scenes of Black life in an effort to normalize images of Black leisure, love and joy. The exhibition includes paintings from Adams’ Floater series of Black people floating on crisp blue water in whimsical pool floats.
Copper, Silver, Salt, Ink: The Chemistry of Photography’s Enduring Desires (Sept. 19-Nov. 29)
The exhibition explores the chemistry and artistry of the development of the medium, from the earliest years of the medium. It includes masterpieces from the Pictorialism movement, the first to consider the artistic possibilities of photogravures in the late 1800s, as well as works from contemporary artists.
Explore the Vaults: Abstraction and the American Scene (Oct. 13-Feb. 28)
Rarely seen and light-sensitive works from the permanent collection will be on display, with a focus on American works from 1900 to 1950. The exhibition includes works of Social Realism that depict city life, as well as the American landscape, Cubism and Fauvism.
Working Point: Contemporary Glass from the MFA Collection (Oct. 13-May 23)
The exhibition features glass works made with a variety of techniques, including cast and blown processes, and showcases works from Dale Chihuly and Flora Mace.
From Chaos to Order: Greek Geometric Art from the Sol Rabin Collection (Nov. 7-April 4)
The exhibition focuses on the aesthetics of Greek Geometric art and demonstrates how stylistic principles of art during the period reflect a characteristically Greek idea of the beautiful. Rabin’s collection is the most important of Greek Geometric art in the world.
Color Riot: How Color Changes Navajo Textiles (Dec. 19-March 14)
Through 80 works, the exhibition showcases the experimentation in Navajo textiles from the last quarter of the 19th century. The works reflect the events the Navajos experienced between 1863 and 1868. During this time, weavers experimented with form and color, absorbing Hispanic textiles and working with new materials. It also includes works from contemporary Navajo textile artists.
THE DALÍ MUSEUM
1 Dalí Blvd. (Bayshore Drive and Fifth Ave. SE), St. Petersburg. (727) 823-3767. thedali.org.
The museum requires timed ticketing. Occupancy has been reduced, as have hours of operation. Docent tours have been suspended, as has the renting of devices to take audio tours. Temperatures are taken upon entering the building, masks are required, there are hand sanitizing stations throughout and all transactions are cashless. Walls in the galleries have been rearranged to help with social distancing, and placards with directional arrows promote following a path to prevent crowding. Cafe Gala is open with a limited menu and seating arranged for social distancing. The museum also offers multiple online exhibitions.
Dalí‘s Sacred Science — Religion and Mysticism (ongoing through Nov. 1)
The exhibition features five rarely seen mixed-media projects from the museum’s permanent collection. The prints and sculptural objects from Dalí‘s later body of work underscore his spiritual pursuits. They include Mythology, Don Quixote, Aliyah, Moses and Monotheism and Alchemy of the Philosophers.
At Home With Dalí (on display indefinitely)
The exhibition features a group of nearly 40 portraits by five photographers: Horst P. Horst, Ricardo Sans, Melitó Casals, Lies Wiegman and Robert Descharnes. They were taken in the 1950s and early ’60s and offer an intimate view of Dalí in his home environment in Spain.
Diego and Frida: A Visual History (Sept. 5-Jan. 3)
More than 60 reproductions of images of the famous artist couple Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, taken by their friends and family. On display in the Raymond James Community Room.
Midnight in Paris, 1929: The Online Exhibition (ongoing through Dec. 31)
The in-person exhibition was the last one the museum had up before it closed. Through extensive texts and an original film, it celebrates the friendships and rivalries of the Surrealists and includes works by Alexander Calder, Joan Miró, Rene Magritte and Man Ray. thedali.org/exhibit/midnight-in-paris-online.
Dalí: Magazine Covers & Ads (online through Dec. 31)
A showcase of the numerous illustrations Dalí created for newspapers and magazines. The artist was prolific as a commercial artist, probably because of his own desire for publicity.
Student Surrealist Art Exhibit Online: Statewide (ongoing through May 15)
Middle and high school students riff on the theme “Irrational Technology: From the Ridiculous to the Sublime.”
TAMPA MUSEUM OF ART
120 Gasparilla Plaza, Tampa. (813) 274-8130. tampamuseum.org.
The museum is operating at 50 percent capacity and requires masks and physical distancing. It has received a prevention response outreach seal of approval from Tampa General Hospital. The Riverwalk Cafe is open for grab-and-go meals and the museum store is open.
White Gold: Thomas Sayre (ongoing through Jan.10)
An immersive installation by artist Thomas Sayre that depicts a cotton-filled Southern landscape, exploring America’s complex relationship with the contentious material.
Modern Women: Modern Vision (ongoing through Oct. 25)
Features 100 works from the Bank of America Collection of leading female photographers of the 20th and 21st centuries, exploring their innovations in the genre.
Frank Stella: Illustrations After El Lissitzky’s Had Gadya from the Collection of BNY Mellon (ongoing through Sept. 27)
Stella created this series after seeing artist El Lissitzky’s work at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. Between 1917 and 1919, Lissitzky (Russian, 1890-1941) completed imagery for a children’s book of “Had Gadya,” an allegorical song sung at the close of the Passover Seder.
Frank Stella: What You See (ongoing through Sept. 27)
To complement Stella’s illustrations, an intimate exhibition of his works that are held in local private collections, including the museum’s permanent collection.
Sketches and Sculptures: A Study of C. Paul Jennewein
In 1978, the Tampa Bay Art Center, the museum’s predecessor, received a bequest of 2,600 objects from the renowned sculptor, including sketches and molds. The exhibition is an overview of the artist’s early sculptures and four major commissions executed between 1925 and 1940. Jennewein’s style intersected neo-classical and Art Deco. Part of the museum’s centennial exhibition series Celebrating 100 Years.
Air Fer Mer: Dominique Labauvie (ongoing through Nov. 30)
Tampa artist Labauvie combines language, including his native French and English, in his steel sculptures, which are installed outside the museum on the Sullivan Terrace.
HerStory: Stories of Ancient Heroines and Everyday Women (ongoing through Jan. 9, 2022)
The exhibition explores the depictions of women as goddesses, heroines, mythological figures and everyday women through objects from the museum’s antiquities collection. Part of a series of exhibitions focused on women in the arts, in celebration of the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage and of the centennial exhibition series Celebrating 100 Years.
Figure Forward: Selections From the Permanent Collection (Oct. 25-May 9)
Representation of the human body from the 18th century through the present by artists including Alex Katz, Francisco Goya and Cindy Sherman. Part of the museum’s centennial exhibition series Celebrating 100 Years.
Living Color: The Art of the Highwaymen (Nov. 19-March 28)
The exhibition showcases work produced from 1950 to 1980 by a select group of Black artists, with a focus on two artists, Harold Newton and Alfred Hair.
THE JAMES MUSEUM OF WESTERN AND WILDLIFE ART
150 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. (727) 892-4200. thejamesmuseum.org.
The museum is operating at regular hours. Face masks and physical distancing are required. A health screening is required and staff is constantly sanitizing. Tickets can be purchased online or in person. The museum shop is open with grab-and-go snacks and refreshments available for purchase in the Canyon Café.
Blake Little: Photographs From the Gay Rodeo (Sept. 5-Jan. 31)
Los Angeles-based photographer Little documented the gay rodeo circuit and the lives of its participants between 1988 and 1992.
Artists for Conservation Exhibit of Nature in Art (March 13-May 23)
More than 60 works of art including painting, photography, sculptures and installations that celebrate nature and showcase conservation in this annual juried exhibition.
Ergo Sum: A Crow a Day (June 19-Sept. 6, 2021)
To cope with her mother’s dementia, Canadian-born artist Karen Bondarchuk made a crow on a small hand-cut panel every day for a year, remembering her mother as she was and grieving her loss.
THE JOHN AND MABLE RINGLING MUSEUM OF ART
5401 Bay Shore Road, Sarasota. (941) 359-5700. ringling.org.
Masks are required for visitors and staff, groups are limited to 10 and the museum is limiting occupancy. There are hand sanitizer stations throughout the museum. Visitors are encouraged to purchase tickets online in advance.
Sun Xun: Time Spy (ongoing through Oct. 4)
Time Spy (2016), a 3D animated film by Chinese artist Sun Xun, incorporates traditional techniques including ink painting, charcoal drawing and woodblock printing.
Remaking the World: Abstraction from the Permanent Collection (ongoing through May 21)
Features more than 20 paintings and sculptures by European and American artists associated with Abstract Expressionism.
Syd Solomon: Concealed and Revealed (ongoing through Jan. 24)
A selection of paintings by American abstract artist Syd Solomon, along with numerous objects from the Solomon Archive, on view for the first time.
Howie Tsui: Retainers of Anarchy (ongoing through Nov. 29)
Retainers of Anarchy is a large-scale animated hand drawing depicting the social and political climate of present-day Hong Kong, woven with martial arts tropes and characters.
Being Seen: Recent Acquisitions from the Ringling Photography Collection (ongoing through Jan. 3)
The exhibition focuses on photographers exploring identity through self-portraits and portraits of empowered subjects. Many are leading contemporary photographers, and there are numerous works by significant female photographers.
Kabuki Modern (Nov. 13-June 27)
A showcase of recently acquired kabuki portraits between 1868 and the 1950s. They feature the actors posing in their iconic makeup and costumes.
UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH FLORIDA CONTEMPORARY ART MUSEUM
3821 Holly Drive, Tampa. (813) 974-2849. cam.usf.edu.
The museum is open to USF staff, faculty and students but not to the public. Reservations are required to visit the museum. The museum’s exhibitions are online, with the exception of one that is on the facade of the museum.
Life During Wartime: Art in the Age of the Coronavirus (evolving online exhibition at lifeduringwartimeexhibition.org)
The museum’s first major virtual exhibition features work that responds to COVID-19 from a select group of international artists.
The Neighbors: Slide Shows for America (ongoing online exhibition at cam.usf.edu)
Five invited photographers reflect on the idea of community in an election season and the ongoing pandemic. The photographers, Widline Cadet, Guy Greenberg, Curran Hatleberg, Kathya Maria Landeros and Zora J Murff, will each be commissioned to put together slideshows of images.
Color Code 2020: Luftwerk & Normal (Sept. 15-Nov. 3)
In honor of Sept. 15 being International Democracy Day, three flags designed by Chicago-based artists Luftwerk and Normal will be installed on the museum’s facade. The flags spell out S.O.S. in the dashes and dots of Morse code.
Breaking Barriers: Selected Work (Dec. 9-10)
Photographic artworks by military veterans created in a free workshop series that gives veterans the opportunity to express themselves.
FLORIDA MUSEUM OF PHOTOGRAPHIC ARTS
400 N Ashley Drive, Tampa. (813) 221-2222. fmopa.org.
The museum requires masks, limits group sizes and occupancy and has an appointment system. The staff sanitizes, and hand sanitizer stations are available. Visitors are asked to complete a health screening form.
Reframed (ongoing through Jan. 1)
A showcase of work by four internationally acclaimed female photographers who re-photograph, reassess and reframe imagery and ideas of femininity in a male-dominated world. The artists are Astrid Jahnsen, Sama Alshaibi, Ina Jang and Endia Beal.
Bruce Davidson: New York (ongoing through Jan. 1)
Drawn from the museum’s collection, there are 60 images from the esteemed photographer who depicts people on the fringes of society.
United Photographic Artists Gallery Group Exhibit (November)
The exhibition gives exposure to local and international emerging and mid-career artists.
Photography Benefit Sale (Dec. 2-Jan.1)
Members of the museum showcase and sell their original photography.
LEEPA-RATTNER MUSEUM OF ART
600 E Klosterman Road, Tarpon Springs. (727) 712-5762. leeparattner.org.
Masks are required, hours have been reduced and docent tours, in-person programs and gatherings have been suspended. There are Plexiglas barriers at the admissions desk and in the store, and staff shifts have been staggered.
Woman Made: From the Collection (ongoing through Feb. 7)
A selection of works by internationally renowned female sculptors and printmakers. The exhibition is in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote.
Leonard Baskin: Leaders of the Constitution, 1787 (ongoing through Jan. 31)
In anticipation of the 2020 election, a series of lithographs of presidential portraits that Baskin was commissioned to make by the Pennsylvania Humanities Council in 1975 for the nation’s bicentennial celebration.
SPC Visual Arts Faculty Exhibition 2020 (Sept. 19-Feb. 7)
St. Petersburg College faculty artists showcase the works they created while the school was closed and classes moved online.
Florida Watercolor Society 49th Annual Exhibition — Online Only (Sept. 19-Nov. 29)
Featuring more than 100 works in watercolors by artists from around the state who employ a variety of techniques. Florida’s Watercolor Society is the largest in the nation.
Jared Ragland and Cary Norton: Where You Come From Is Gone (Feb. 20-May 16)
Ragland and Norton create large-scale images through a wet-plate collodion photographic process, shot throughout the South, Alabama and on the west coat of Florida, that seek to shed light on the erased Native American history.
Leonard Baskin: Native American Portraits (Feb. 20-May 16)
Baskin created this series while researching Native Americans for a project to illustrate a handbook about Custer Battlefield that was commissioned by the National Park Service.
About Face: Celebrating Diversity (Feb. 20-May 16)
The exhibition features portraits of figures including Miles Davis and Muhammad Ali that encapsulate cultural identity from photographers including Herb Snitzer.
POLK MUSEUM OF ART AT FLORIDA SOUTHERN COLLEGE
800 E Palmetto St., Lakeland. (863) 688-7743. polkmuseumofart.org.
Opens to the public on Sept. 8. Masks will be required and cleaning and sanitizing will happen frequently. A new online reservation system will limit occupancy.
Music & Dance in Painting of the Dutch Golden Age (ongoing through Sept. 27)
Custom-curated for the museum by the Hoogsteder Museum Foundation of the Netherlands, the exhibit features Dutch and Flemish paintings from the 17th century.
Juxtapositions (ongoing through Dec. 19)
The exhibition pulled from the museum’s permanent collection invites the viewer to ponder why objects were placed together.
A Brush With Herstory: The Paintings of Gabriela Gonzalez Dellosso (ongoing through Oct. 25)
Dellosso is a contemporary portrait painter who pays tribute to overlooked female Old Masters.
What’s the Story? Art in Search of a Narrative (Oct. 10-Jan. 17)
Drawn from the museum’s collection, the exhibition asks viewers to contemplate the narratives of 30 artworks.
Observations: Street Photography from the Permanent Collection (Nov. 7-Jan. 31)
A selection of scenes that map the social landscape of the street and exemplify the energy of cities.
Toulouse-Lautrec and the Belle Époque (Feb. 13-May 23)
The exhibition includes more than 215 artworks and artifacts from the decade-long career of the iconic painter, illustrator and printer who had a commercial career.
Spirits: The New African and Oceanic Art Gallery (opens fall 2020)
The museum acquired the complete Dr. Alan and Linda Rich Collection of art from Africa and Papua New Guinea for permanent display in a newly renovated space.
TAMPA BAY HISTORY CENTER
801 Water St., Tampa. (813) 228-0097. tampabayhistorycenter.org.
Visitors are asked to wear a mask. Tickets must be purchased in advance. Three two-hour viewing sessions will be available each day. Staff is cleaning, and hand sanitizing stations are available. Some exhibits have been closed. The center has a Museum From Home feature on its website.
Sunshine State Showdown: Pro Wrestling in Tampa Bay (ongoing through Jan. 10)
It highlights Tampa Bay’s long connection to wrestling, showcasing wrestlers from “The American Dream,” Dusty Rhodes, to “The Doctor of Thuganomics,” John Cena.
The Shape We’re In: Early Maps of Florida (ongoing through July 4, 2021)
Featuring a rare 1511 map made by Peter Martyr, the first to depict the Florida peninsula, two years before Ponce de Leon landed on Florida’s east coast.
1901 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. (727) 300-1700. imaginemuseum.com.
The museum that showcases international and national contemporary glass art is open. Employees are continuously sanitizing the museum and hand sanitizing stations are placed throughout. Guests are required to wear masks at all times and gloves in the gift shop and are asked to practice social distancing.
The museum did not respond to requests for the exhibition schedule in time for publication.