Advertisement
  1. News

Hillsborough County to explore creating new African-American art museum

Hillsborough County is exploring establishing an African-American art museum, likely in Tampa. The idea was proposed Wednesday by Commissioner Les Miller. [Times files]
Published May 17, 2018

TAMPA — Hillsborough County's last African-American art museum lasted only about six years before it closed in 1997 due to financial woes.

Now, county leaders want to try again.

County commissioners on Wednesday gave unanimous support to a proposal from Commissioner Les Miller to explore establishing a new museum, likely in downtown Tampa. It would showcase past and present African-American paintings, sculpture, jewelry, costume, and other art and crafts.

"This is something that is vitally important," said Miller, the county's only black commissioner. "It teaches a rich history of what happened in Hillsborough County."

The vote instructs county staffers to begin looking for potential sites on county and city of Tampa land or to seek land from a benefactor. They must also put together a plan for public outreach and efforts to get local philanthropists on board.

"I'm asking staff to turn over every rock they can to make it happen," Miller said.

Miller was a friend of Israel "Ike" Tribble, a black civic leader and former president of the Florida Education Fund who founded the African American Museum of Art in 1991 in a converted bank building on Marion Street.

The museum featured the Barnett-Aden African-American art collection, which the non-profit purchased in 1990 when it was valued at $7 million. The collection depicted the culture and lifestyle of African-American people dating back to the 1850s.

The museum reported more than 60,000 visitors through the end of 1995. But two years later, it was losing $250,000 a year and Tribble faced pressure to close it. It was shuttered later that year. It wasn't clear Wednesday what became of the collection.

Miller said a new museum will survive by partnering with the private sector. It could organize art events that coincide with Hillsborough's Black Heritage Festival and draw more visitors to the county.

"They didn't have that back in 1991," Miller said.

The Tampa Bay region already has an African-American cultural museum in St. Petersburg — the Dr. Carter G. Woodson African American Museum, opened in 2006. The museum includes artwork but few artifacts.

About 200 people per month view the museum or visit to take education programs, said executive director Terri Lipsey Scott. It relies heavily on donations and also grants, including $32,000 from St. Petersburg.

In time, Lipsey Scott hopes the Woodson can become a regional museum. But she said she welcomes the addition of any other venues that highlight African-American culture and art.

The Tampa Housing Authority also has long-term plans for an African-American museum, focused on history.

In other action Wednesday, county commissioners:

• Approved the renaming of "Uncle Tom Road" in Riverview after Miller raised concerns about its racial connotation. After discussion with the one person who lives on the road, the county decided to rename it Tom Road.

• Gave preliminary approval for the county to move ahead with the creation of a Black Heritage and Cultural Council, to identify and preserve black history. Commissioner Victor Crist said the group is needed to save black history that's in danger of being lost.

Contact Christopher O'Donnell at codonnell@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3446. Follow @codonnell_Times.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Building sand mandalas will be offered each day throughout Peace Week at Pasco-Hernando State College's Porter Campus. JONES, OCTAVIO  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Peace Week 2019 will be Sept. 30-Oct. 4
  2. Check tampabay.com for the latest breaking news and developments.
    The shooting happened on the 5100 block of Matanzas Avenue, police said.
  3. Check tampabay.com for the latest breaking news and updates.
    Charges in the incident are pending, the Florida Highway Patrol said.
  4. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis talks to reporters in Tampa on Aug. 21. Delays in his filling vacancies on the state's five water management district boards have twice led to those agencies canceling meetings to levy taxes and set budgets, which one expert said was unprecedented. OCTAVIO JONES   |   TIMES  |  Times
    Vacancies lead to canceling two agencies’ budget meetings.
  5. Jessica Stoneking, Seven Springs Elementary School art teacher, and a group of kindergarten children enjoy a colorful floor rug during instruction time.  The rug is one of the many flexible seating options art students have in Stoneking's class. Gail Diederich
  6. President Donald Trump listens to music by military musicians during a State Dinner in the Rose Garden at the White House, Friday, Sept. 20, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon) AP
    Allies of Joe Biden, the early front-runner in the Democratic presidential primary, seized on the developments to portray him as the candidate Trump least wants to face next fall.
  7. Imam Askia Muhammad Aquil says religious leaders must be empathetic to the needs of families members of those who die by suicide. SCOTT KEELER  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Attitudes have evolved with understanding about mental illness
  8. Rabbi Reb Tuviah (Paul Schreiber) is rarely seen without his guitar. He will sing at the upcoming Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services at Temple Beth David in Spring Hill. Paul Schreiber
  9. Joshua Michael Nichols, 21, was arrested by Pasco County Sheriff's deputies on Saturday in connection to the early morning shooting death of an unidentified man during an argument outside a Spring Hill home. [Pasco County Sheriff's Office] ANASTASIA DAWSON  |  Pasco County Sheriff's Office
    One person is in custody. The Pasco County Sheriff’s Office is investigating.
  10. Yesterday• Pasco
    Dr. Rao Musunuru, MD, received his third “Paul Harris Award.” the highest recognition from the Rotary Club, on Aug. 15. The pin was presented to Dr. Musunuru, a nationally-recognized cardiologist, by Rotary 6950 District Governor Allen Collins in recognition of his humanitarian and philanthropic services to the people of Pasco County and the State of Florida for nearly 40 years. Pictured: Dr. Rao Musunuru, MD, (left) and Rotary 6950 District Governor Allen Collins. Jemith Rosa/Hudson Rotary Club
    News and notes about your neighbors
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement