More than 40,000 artifacts inside this museum chart the history of the Tampa Bay region from prehistoric times to the present day.
Tampa Bay History Center charts 12,000 years of Florida’s past and the people who shaped the area, from the first native inhabitants to Spanish conquistadors, sports legends and entrepreneurs. The museum focuses on landmark eras such as the Seminole Indian Wars, the Civil War and the rise of the modern city. There are thousands of artifacts from the prehistoric Gulf Coast Florida to the present day, including maps, paintings, ceramics, furniture and many other everyday objects.
One of the museum’s highlights is the cigar exhibit on the first floor. During the first decades of the 20th century, Tampa’s factories produced hundreds of millions of cigars a year, earning it the nickname “Cigar City.” Walk through a replica of a cigar shop from the 1920s stocked with artifacts from the era. These objects include marketing gimmicks, boxes, tins and signs. The museum claims to have one of the most extensive collections of cigar memorabilia in the world. Step inside a replica factory and learn about the cigar-making process.
Movies and life-size mannequins at the Winds of Change exhibit take you back to the early 16th century to tell the story of Spanish conqueror Pánfilo de Narváez and his failed expedition to colonize Florida.
Make your way up to the second floor and view photographs, artifacts and artistic renderings that cover 500 years of Tampa’s history. Traveling and temporary exhibitions are located on the third floor.
The museum places an emphasis on interacting with history. Climb up on a rocking saddle and pretend to drive a herd of cattle that are projected on a cinema screen, design your own cattle brands and try your hand at weaving Native Indian fabrics.
The Tampa Bay History Center is located in Channelside in downtown Tampa. There are several pay parking options in the vicinity. Parking in the Forum East Lot is included with the price of admission.
The museum is open daily except Thanksgiving and Christmas.