120 W. Gasparilla Plaza, Tampa, (813) 274-8130, tampamuseum.org
A gleaming jewel box of a building on the Hillsborough River, the Tampa Museum of Art is at the heart of the city’s revitalized downtown. Designed by Stanley Saitowitz, the 66,000-square-foot edifice has been the museum’s home only since 2010; it first opened in 1979 in a low-slung structure not far from its current location on Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park, and its history goes back more than 100 years to a small art exhibit at City Hall.
Key purchases through the years laid the groundwork for today’s TMA, known for its antiquities collections and world-class holdings of photography and 20th-century artworks. Traveling via your own watercraft? TMA is purportedly the only museum in the country accessible by boat. Two slips on the Riverwalk are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday and Saturday-Sunday; 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Thursday
Approximately 1 hour
Adults $10, students/seniors $5, members free
Check out The Classical World galleries and HerStory: Stories of Ancient Heroines and Everyday Women, one of a series of exhibitions at TMA celebrating the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage. But the woman who will likely grab your attention first is Laura with Bun on the TMA’s north plaza. The 23-foot-tall bust of a woman by Spanish sculptor Jaume Plensa is uncanny from any angle.
Taking Shape: Abstraction from the Arab World, 1950s–1980s, remains on view through Jan. 16, and an exhibition devoted to local female artists of color opens in February. Also, expect changes in the museum itself, including a new Education Center and expanded gallery space.
The polka dot-printed tote bag echoes the look of the museum building’s pierced-aluminum sheathing. But the ideal gift for a TMA fan is The Making of a Museum: 100 Years, 100 Works, an elegant hard-cover history with beautiful photographs of 100 key objects.
A leisurely stroll north along the winding Riverwalk leads you to multiple culinary options: Try Ulele, a celebration of Florida flavors from Richard Gonzmart of Columbia Restaurant in a sprawling parklike setting, and Armature Works, an immense food hall where the lunch options range from bento boxes to barbecue to high-end cuisine. Take the Pirate Water Taxi back to the museum.