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5 Captivating New Museums in Florida

Check out Superblue Miami, Fairgrounds St. Pete and more, plus loads of cool new exhibitions 

aarp
Courtesy Superblue

 

Known for its award-winning white-sand beaches and thrilling theme parks, the Sunshine State is also home to a number of world-class museums, including the Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg, The Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota and the Pérez Art Museum Miami. Now Florida is home to five fascinating new museums, including two unique immersive and interactive experiences, in Miami and St. Petersburg.

Superblue Miami

Superblue Miami is a 50,000-square-foot interactive art center dedicated to supporting and presenting artists who work in large-scale, immersive formats. It opened in May in Miami’s Allapattah neighborhood, just west of Wynwood. The creators’ second location, Superblue London, opened in October.

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Lots of “wows” here. Visitors first encounter Meadow, by DRIFT, an upside-down landscape meant to evoke nature’s impermanence, then navigate to three different rooms. One is home to five installations by Tokyo-based teamLab, a collective of over 400 artists, computer programmers, animators, botanists and more. The other rooms include large-format work by James Turrell and a mirror maze by Es Devlin, who is known for her large-scale stage sculptures incorporating light and video. For an extra $12 you can experience teamLab’s Massless Clouds Between Sculpture and Life, an installation in which you interact with clouds of soap bubbles (poncho provided).

“Our mission is to reach far beyond the art world folks and the people who would traditionally go to a museum, and we’re seeing all of that,” says Shantelle Rodriguez, Superblue Miami’s director of experiential art centers, “[including] kids with their parents who thought they were going to ‘a boring museum’ but want to come back again.”

The timed-entry ticketing to limit capacity was planned before the pandemic, Rodriguez notes, so attendance “is constantly flowing [to create] a comfortable experience for every guest.”

Location: 1101 NW 23rd Street, Miami; 786-697-3414; superblue.com

Visit: Sunday-Wednesday, 11 a.m.-7 p.m.; Thursday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.

Admission: Buy timed-entry tickets online, $32-$39

Fairgrounds St. Pete, Mermaid Hotel
Courtesy Fairgrounds St. Pete
Courtesy Fairgrounds St. Pete

Fairgrounds St. Pete

Fairgrounds St. Pete opened its doors in St. Petersburg’s warehouse arts district in September. Another interactive and immersive museum, it offers plenty of whimsy: “We’re inviting people to escape reality and explore an artist-made world; most everything is made by artists,” says CEO and cofounder Liz Dimmitt. “It’s art for all, play for all, joy for all — that really is what we’re going for.”

Dimmitt (who had been working in immersive and large-scale art projects for a number of years) and the Fairgrounds St. Pete team partnered with 64 artists, focusing on those based in Florida. She calls Fairgrounds “a love letter to Florida” that revels in all that’s “weird, wacky and wonderful” in the state.

Among the playful art and technology exhibits based on original Florida stories are A Mysterious Portal to the Bay, by Mike Hicks, a dazzling installation that uses CGI, 3D modeling and printing (among other tech) to create the illusion that you’re under a bridge, looking at a glowing Tampa skyline across the water, and Strawberry Room, by Macy Higgins (also known as Macy Eats Paint) and Emiliano Settecasi, celebrating the sweet Florida fruit in a very pink space dubbed the Mermaid Star Motel.  

Location: 800 28th Street South, St. Petersburg; fairgrounds.art

Visit: Thursday, 12 p.m.-6 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m.-9 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. (closed Monday-Wednesday)

Admission: Buy timed-entry tickets online, $22-$27

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Museum of American Arts and Crafts Movement
Courtesy Joe Brennan

Museum of the American Arts and Crafts Movement (St. Petersburg)

The only museum in the world dedicated exclusively to this artistic movement, the Museum of the American Arts and Crafts Movement opened in downtown St. Petersburg’s arts district in September. The alluring, meticulously designed building — with its massive (137,000 square feet) five-story space, soaring atrium, dramatic spiral staircase and skylights — could be considered a work of art in itself.

Founded by local philanthropist and collector Rudy Ciccarello, the museum houses a permanent collection that features more than 2,000 objects from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It includes some of the rarest objects from the movement, which began in Victorian England as a reaction to industrialization. Its focus was on creating objects that were — as the museum’s website explains — both functional and beautiful, marked by “simplicity in design, honesty in materials, hand craftsmanship, and depicting the natural world.” The museum’s mission is “to preserve and share these beautiful works of art with the public and to teach future generations to appreciate hand craftsmanship and honest design.” 

“Designing the New: Charles Rennie Mackintosh and the Glasgow Style,” a temporary exhibit running March 11 through June 5, 2022, will showcase 166 works related to the Glasgow School, most of them never before displayed in North America.

Location: 355 Fourth Street North, St. Petersburg; 727-440-4859; museumaacm.org 

Visit: Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; Sunday, noon-4 p.m. (closed Monday)

Admission: Buy tickets online to avoid a wait, $10-$25

colorful exhibit at Island Space Museum
Courtesy Island SPACE Caribbean Museum

Island SPACE Caribbean Museum (Plantation)

The first Caribbean heritage museum in the U.S., the Island SPACE Caribbean Museum opened in June 2021 at the Broward Mall in Plantation, just west of downtown Fort Lauderdale in Broward County. The county is the most ethnically diverse in Florida and home to a large community of residents from Jamaica and Haiti, among other Caribbean countries.   

Colorful and engaging exhibits feature a collection of artifacts, iconic paraphernalia, cultural relics, fine art and more that represent the region’s Caribbean communities. True to its name (SPACE stands for Society for the Promotion of Artistic and Cultural Education), the museum strives to preserve and promote Caribbean history, culture and art, and to celebrate the ancestry, heritage and traditions shared by Caribbean nations.

Location: Northeast corner of the Broward Mall, 8000 W. Broward Boulevard, Plantation; 954-999-0989; islandspacefl.org

Visit: Thursday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-7 p.m.; Sunday 11 a.m.-6 p.m. (closed Monday-Wednesday).

Admission: $5-$10

Tampa Baseball Museum
Courtesy Susan B. Barnes

Tampa Baseball Museum

Spring training fans have a new destination: the Tampa Baseball Museum, which opened in September 2021 in the Ybor City neighborhood. Housed in National Baseball Hall of Famer Al López’s childhood home, it sets out to capture the city’s baseball history, which began when Tampa’s first baseball team formed in 1887. In the next decade the cigar industry arrived in Ybor City, along with baseball-loving Cuban immigrants who fueled enthusiasm for the game.

More than 1,500 artifacts were donated by the area’s Cuban community, including a 1919 Tampa Smokers minor-league jersey, the team’s nod to the town’s big business. Exhibits include autographed balls from every professional baseball player born in Tampa’s Hillsborough County, plus other donated artifacts from baseball pros such as Lou Piniella, Wade Boggs, Fred McGriff, Tino Martinez, Tony La Russa, Dave Magadan and Gary Sheffield.

Location: 2003 N. 19th Street; 813-400-2353; tampabaseballmuseum.org

Visit: Thursday-Saturday10 a.m.-4 p.m. (closed Sunday-Wednesday)

Admission: Buy timed tickets online in advance, $10-$12

Catch these temporary exhibits at museums across Florida

​The Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota. “From Legend to History: Archaeology of the Underground Railroad in Our Backyard” showcases archaeological and archival evidence of Angola, a 19th-century community that “was a haven of liberty from slavery.” Through February 28, 2022

James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art, St. Petersburg. “Away From Home: American Indian Boarding School Stories” uses historical photos and objects, interviews and timelines to tell the story of American Indian students who were taken from their homes and “stripped of their languages, religious practices and familial connections.” Through March 16, 2022

Museum of Art — DeLand. Grammy Award winner John Mellencamp doesn’t just sing — he’s also an accomplished painter. ​See some of his recent works in the exhibit “John Mellencamp: Paintings & Assemblages.” Through March 27, 2022

​Florida Keys History & Discovery Center, Islamorada. The museum celebrates Cuban artist Carlos Guzmán with “Where the Sea Retreats,” an exhibit of his fantastical paintings and drawings. Through April 24, 2022

Coral Gables Museum. “Julio Larraz: The Kingdom We Carry Inside” is the first museum retrospective for the Cuban-born artist, one of the most influential figures in Latin American art today. Through April 30, 2022

Dalí Museum, St. Petersburg. “Picasso and the Allure of the South” features 79 of the artist’s paintings, drawings and collages, many never before seen in the U.S. Through May 22, 2022

Museum of Science & History (MOSH), Jacksonville. The interactive exhibit “​Playing with Light” invites museumgoers to learn how light impacts our everyday lives through hands-on experimentation. January 30 through April 24, 2022

Orlando Museum of Art. “Heroes & Monsters: Jean-Michel Basquiat, the Thaddeaus Mumford, Jr. Venice Collection” presents a rare group of the artist’s paintings, from a private collection, that are being shown for the first time. February 12, 2022-June 30, 2023

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