Tampa Bay History Center to open Jan. 17

As you may surmise from the rendering, the landscaping of the park in front of the History Center and its continuity with the Riverwalk and Cotanchobee Park are a fringe benefit of the new structure.

Accessibility is high on the new museum's list of goals; to that end, visitors should expect to be treated to an immersive sensory experience that will include multimedia theatrical experiences, hands-on activities like designing an orange crate label and "branding" cattle, and opportunities to leave your own mark on the museum (e.g., in an exhibit area that invites visitors to inscribe memories on a whiteboard).

It's not your grandpa's history museum. Having heard quite a bit about the 60,000-sq.-ft. facility and the cutting-edge exhibits it will house, I'm predicting that even people who think history is boh-ring (read, the text message crowd) will get a kick out of this place.

I took a hardhat tour of the museum, still under construction, a few weeks ago. Here are a few iPhone snapshots from the tour.

Read a bit more about the new museum here, in Creative Loafing.

History Center executive director CJ Roberts leads us through an area where an actual shipping container will serve as a theater for a multimedia presentation about Tampa's port history. Also in this area, visitors will be able to create their own historical tours of Tampa through an interactive map projected on the floor and email the results.

Historic Tampa artifacts include the Maas Brothers building sign installed in the grand staircase. (A reminder both of Tampa's heritage and past failures to protect it?)

An example of the History Center's gorgeous views. The museum hopes interest in renting its meeting rooms for special events will create a revenue stream.

Megan Voeller is Creative Loafing’s visual art critic. She teaches at the University of Tampa and The Art Institute of Tampa, edits the weekly online newsletter of CreativeTampaBay and blogs at Artsqueeze.com.

Rendering via tampabayhistorycenter.org

The newly constructed Tampa Bay History Center is now set to open Jan. 17. (Up until last week, I'd heard December, but the History Center's PR person recently sent me the January date.)

This is not only exciting news for those of us who live in downtown Tampa and are glad to see the former void between Channelside and the St. Pete Times Forum fill with a cultural attraction, but for everyone in the Bay area, history buff or not.

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