Tampa Bay History Center Unveils New ‘Treasure Seekers’ Expansion

March 14, 2018

Tampa Bay History Center Unveils New ‘Treasure Seekers’ Expansion

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(Tampa, Thursday, Feb. 15, 2018) --- Set sail with the Tampa Bay History Center this weekend as the museum, located on downtown Tampa’s Riverwalk, unveils “Treasure Seekers: Conquistadors, Pirates and Shipwrecks,” an all-new permanent gallery experience opening to the public Sunday, Feb. 18 at 10 a.m.

Featuring a 60-foot, 18th-century pirate ship as its centerpiece, the new, permanent addition to the History Center introduces visitors to explorers who landed in “La Florida” more than 500 years ago as well as little-known pirates like “Calico” Jack Rackham and Anne Bonny, who prowled Florida’s coasts in the 1700s.

The new gallery also dives into the science and technology of shipwreck recovery, showing how centuries-old vessels are recovered from the ocean floor.

The first expansion of the History Center since opening in 2009, the 8,500-square-foot permanent addition also includes the Touchton Map Library/Florida Center for Cartographic Education (TML/FCCE), a partnership with the University of South Florida that will feature some 6,000 maps of Florida and the Caribbean dating back to the 15th century.

“We’re telling a Florida story,” said History Center President and CEO C.J. Roberts. “Conquistadors, pirates and privateers, shipwreck recovery – many of these things were happening not just in the Tampa Bay area, but across the state. The new gallery expands our focus and gives visitors a broader, Florida-wide view of history,” he added.

Visitors learn about Florida’s maritime history via the latest in museum technology, including hologram pirates, an immersive, choose-your-own-adventure theater experience, and a celestial ellipse on the gallery ceiling showing how sailors used the stars to traverse unknown oceans.

The new gallery also features a world-class collection of maritime artifacts—some nearly 400 years old —including navigational tools, jewelry, coins, pottery and other rare items recovered off of Florida’s coasts dating back to the 1600s, some of which will be on view to the public for the first time.

Opening weekend for the “Treasure Seekers” gallery will feature family-friendly historical re-enactors, special gallery tours and talks, hands-on arts and crafts for kids, special giveaways and more, all included with regular admission.

The Tampa Bay History Center is located at 801 Old Water Street in Tampa’s Channel District. More information is at TampaBayHistoryCenter.org or call 813-228-0097.

Quick Facts – Tampa Bay History Center

  • Opened in 2009, the Tampa Bay History Center tells the stories of the Tampa Bay area and “historic” Hillsborough County.
  • Accredited by the American Alliance of Museums in 2014
  • Smithsonian Affiliate
  • Visitation has increased steadily to more than 100,000 annual visitors, including 10,000+ students from bay-area schools.
  • Southern “anchor” of the Tampa Riverwalk
  • Home to the Columbia Cafe

Expansion Project Quick Facts

  • 8,500 square-foot permanent exhibition gallery on TBHC’s fourth floor, increasing gallery space by one- third
  • New “Treasure Seekers: Conquistadors, Pirates & Shipwrecks” gallery tells the story of the “Age of Discovery,” roughly the 16th century through the early 18th century.
  • Includes the Touchton Map Library/Florida Center for Cartographic Education (TML/FCCE), in partnership with USF
  • (TML/FCCE) is the only cartographic research center in the southeastern U.S. and will house more than 6,000 maps and documents dating back to 1493.
  • The new expansion is part of an $11 million capital campaign, which includes construction of the new gallery, operation of the Touchton Map Library, improvements to the History Center’s existing galleries and building, and additional funding for the History Center’s operating endowment.