City of the Arts
The arts influence on the St. Petersburg lifestyle and economy cannot be overstated. Creativity permeates the city as much as the sunshine.
ArtPlace America voted the city the #1 arts destination for a city its size three years running. Art critics and travel writers from around the globe have gushed over the city’s arts scene. With artist murals throughout the city, you don’t need a ticket to get inspired.
The arts are also an integral part of the local economy. A St. Petersburg Art Alliance study underwritten by Bank of America in 2015 analyzed receipts of 32 non-profit museums and theaters in the city and found an economic impact of $212 million. Together the venues engaged more than 5 million people.
Museums of Distinction
St. Petersburg’s foundation as an arts hub rests in its world-class museums including the Salvador Dali Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts, the (Dale) Chihuly Collection at Morean Arts Center and the Florida Holocaust Museum. More than attractions, the large museums and cultural centers are part of the fabric of the community. They host city-wide book clubs and offer residents courses in the arts, activities that engage and inspire.
The Dali, which holds the largest collection of the Spanish surrealist’s work outside his native country, attracts more visitors than any museum in Florida. The building itself is inspiring. Designed by Yann Weymouth of HOK, it features a free-form geodesic glass bubble made from triangular panes of glass that together rise 75 feet high. Just steps away, the Museum of Fine Arts also overlooking the city’s scenic waterfront features a diverse collection spanning from antiquities to works of contemporary fine artists such as Rauschenberg and O’Keeffe.
The Chihuly Collection at Morean Arts Center on Central Avenue is the only permanent installation of the famous glass artist’s work outside his home city of Seattle. The Florida Holocaust Museum is one of the largest of its kind in the U.S. and features a powerful permanent exhibit as well as traveling ones.
Museums of the Future
Adding to the mix, three new museums are under construction. The James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art plans its opening downtown in early 2018. At 110,000 square feet, the Museum of the American Arts and Crafts Movement will be the largest museum in the area when it opens in 2019. On the edge of downtown, the Imagine Museum, featuring a collection of America’s premier glass studio art, is slated to open in 2018.
Museum of the American Arts and Crafts Movement
Stickley furniture and windows designed by Frank Lloyd Wright are just a small taste of what’s in store for visitors to the upcoming Museum of the American Arts and Craft Movement. Area resident Rudy Ciccarello amassed one of America’s most impressive private collections of antique furnishings and architectural details from the art and decorative movement that spanned the 1880s to 1920s. Now he’s building a $70-million museum downtown to house and share it. The massive 137,000-square-foot facility promises to be a destination that surpasses one of mere observation. Ciccarello, also a foodie, plans to include world-class dining with celebrity chefs. The five-story museum is scheduled to open in 2019.
The Imagine Museum chronicles the history of the studio glass art movement with nearly 500 works by 55 prominent artists of the movement that began in the 1960s. Housed in a repurposed 50,000-square-foot building between the Morean Art Center’s Chihuly Collection and Hot Shop and the glass arts at the Duncan McClellan Gallery, it promises to further cement the city as a studio glass lover’s destination.
The James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art
Raymond James Financial Chairman Emeritus Tom James and his wife Mary have collected art since the 1950s. They traveled, bought oils of emerging painters, works by legendary sculptors, Native American jewelry. They purchased whatever art moved them, which often depicted wildlife or an untamed American West.
Longtime residents of St. Petersburg, the James family funded the construction of a $55-million museum downtown to share their massive collection. It will house a 141-seat theater, 30,000-square-foot gallery space, a cafe and 6,000 square feet of rental event space.
Featuring an indoor two-story waterfall and granite arroyo and an Old West-style cafe, the structure promises to be nearly as impressive as the $20-million art collection it will house. The James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art is expected to open in spring 2018.