It's baaaaaack—the Smithsonian's annual Museum Day, that is. During this one-day event on Saturday, Sept. 17, participating museums and cultural institutions both locally and across the country offer free entry to anyone with a Museum Day ticket. Get yours right here.
Several local museums are participating, but if you're looking for an excuse to take an art-fueled road trip, we've included institutions in St. Pete and Tampa, too. Happy museum-ing!
201 10th St. W., Bradenton, (941) 746-4131
This natural history museum specializes in Gulf Coast history, with a number of exhibits highlighting local life from the prehistoric to the present.
1015 Sixth St. W., Palmetto, (941) 721-2034
The museum's mission is to "preserve, share and educate the community about Manatee County's agricultural heritage and to support local agriculture today and into the future."
515 10th Ave. W., Palmetto, (941) 723-4991
Visitors can learn about the history of Palmetto and the surrounding areas on the north side of the Manatee River. The park grounds offer a glimpse into the area's former pioneer lifestyle with a turn-of-the-century cottage, the 1914 Carnegie Library, a replica of a chapel that used to exists on the site and more historical buildings."
255 Beach Drive N.E., St Petersburg, (727) 896-2667
The Museum of Fine Arts—a.k.a. the MFA—has something for everyone: a collection covering nearly 5,000 years of human history; a sculpture garden; an art collection that includes pieces from Monet, O'Keeffe, de Kooning, Wiley and more; and a slate of traveling exhibitions.
4800 Highway 301 N., Tampa, (813) 627-4225
A living history museum in Tampa that's located on the Florida State Fairgrounds, the museum includes 13 buildings built between 1870-1912 that were relocated from around Florida and have been restored to offer a glimpse into life at the turn of the 20th century.
401 W. Kennedy Blvd., Tampa, (813) 254-1891
This Tampa museum was originally a hotel, built in 1891 by railroad magnate Henry B. Plant. Now it's open for the public to experience Victorian-era grandeur—including restored guest rooms, antique furnishings and tropical gardens.
801 Water St., Tampa, (813) 228-0097
Journey through thousands of years of local history, including a new exhibit called Treasure Seekers: Conquistadors, Pirates and Shipwrecks, which features a 60-foot replica of an 18th-century pirate ship and rare artifacts recovered from shipwrecks off of Florida's coasts.
1818 E. 19th Ave., Tampa, (813) 247-6323
Located in the historic Ferlita Bakery—which made 300-500 loaves of Cuban bread every day from 1835 until 1973—this museum examines the rich cultural history of Ybor City and the cigar-making industry. Enjoy self-guided exhibits with written and audio information, plus a video presentation.
5401 Bay Shore Road, Sarasota, (941) 359-5700
While we have you: it's not part of the Smithsonian's Museum Day, but The Ringling is offering free admission to the museum of art, circus museum and bayfront gardens as part of its "Extraordinary Day." Register here for free tickets, and you'll also be entered to win a membership to the museum. (Check out our video on how to do the museum in 30 seconds or less here.)