St. Petersburg is known as "The City of the Arts" for many reasons. Cultural growth is alive and well in St. Petersburg, where artistic expression takes center stage year round. The components include permanent and featured exhibits at six major museums downtown -- performing arts on the stages of several outstanding venues -- and over two-dozen fascinating, professional art galleries.

St. Petersburg even has a Downtown Arts Association that coordinates several art-awareness events for the community, including monthly walks of the downtown galleries.

This is a city that knows such events and festivals are not only good for the arts, but serve as visitor attractions. Mainsail is one of the biggest shows of them all! The annual outdoor art festival is on the April calendars of major artists everywhere who hope to be included among the 250 participants selected to show their works.

To many of our European guests, a visit to St. Petersburg means an opportunity to see the Salvador Dalí Museum. Since its opening in 1982, the museum has become world famous for its collection of work by the famous Spanish artist. The Museum plans to build an addition onto its waterfront site, located just south of the immediate downtown.

Works at the museum range from 1914, when the artist was ten years of age, through his "transitional" period, the Surrealism years, to the 1980's and his "classic" period. In 1999 the exciting Florida International Museum acquired a collection of artifacts from the private and political life of John F. Kennedy and features a permanent exhibition around the collection. The musem is also an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution and receives articles on loan from their vast collections.

The St. Petersburg Museum of Fine Arts, opened to the public in 1965. The elegant Palladian-style building combines the architecture of a classic art museum and a Mediterranean villa and has always seemed at home in Florida's tropical climate. The museum's permanent collection of nearly 4,000 works is the only comprehensive art collection on the west coast of Florida. It extends from antiquity to the present day and serves as a particularly important resource to the art community. The collection is strong in nineteenth-century French and American painting, early twentieth-century American painting, and photography.

Renowned artist P. Buckley Moss occasionally works from the studio of her landmark gallery on 4th Street within the Finn Gallery. The Finn Gallery houses the largest collection of her works in the southern states.

Meanwhile, local established and emerging artists have still more gallery choices in which to show their works. Salt Creek Artworks houses two galleries for contemporary art and has working artist's studio space. The Glass Canvas Gallery has the region's largest and most extensive showing of studio-quality glass art. It has works by over 300 glass artists from around the world in a constantly changing panorama of form and color.

Florida Craftsmen Gallery is a statewide organization that features contemporary craft art by over one-hundred Florida artists. The gallery has rotating national exhibits at its downtown St. Petersburg location.

The recently-expanded Arts Center of St. Petersburg has gallery exhibitions of local and nationally known contemporary artists as well as classes in pottery, sculpture, painting and jewelry.

In 1998 a historic church building was transformed into a 903-seat, non-profit performing arts hall. The First Church of Christ Scientist, built in 1925, is now the Palladium Theatre. It was brought back to life with private funds and a state grant enabling local dancers, musicians and actors to present public performances at affordable ticket prices.

On the waterfront in downtown St. Petersburg, is the newly remodeled, two-thousand seat Mahaffey Theater. This magnificent performing arts center is considered one of the most beautiful rooms in central Florida. The Mahaffey is the home of the Florida Orchestra, one of the leading professional symphony orchestras in Florida, and one of the best regional orchestras in America. A local tradition has become the orchestra's annual, free, outdoor concert in North Straub Park each Fall.

In the Spring, American Stage, Tampa Bay's oldest professional theater company, moves out of its intimate, 130-seat theater and builds an outdoor stage at Demen's Landing, the downtown waterfront park at the south yacht basin. Here, under the stars, the company delights sell-out audiences with musical adaptations of Shakespeare's works. The innovative productions draw more than 20,000 people each year.

Downtown is also home to the St. Petersburg Museum of History, one of the oldest historical museums in the State of Florida. Since 1920, the museum has been collecting, preserving and presenting St. Petersburg history through exhibitions and special programs. It is where you can get the real story about those famous green benches, the development of tourism and learn about the first commercial airline which began near the museum.

There are nearly 30-thousand objects and archival items in the St. Petersburg Museum of History --collections which have appeared in books, videos, advertising, and exhibits. For serious reflection on the not too distant past, visit The Florida Holocaust Museum -- the fourth largest Holocaust museum in the United States.

The powerful themes that echo through this museum are meant to touch the soul, yet the Florida Holocaust Museum serves as a beacon of light promoting the lessons of tolerance, respect and responsibility.

All of St. Petersburg's museums and most galleries are easy to visit by boarding a bright pink trolley called the "Looper" and riding from place to place.

There is even a museum for children called Great Explorations, the Hands On Museum, at one of the most famous tourism landmarks in all of St. Petersburg -- Sunken Gardens. Here the entire family can use creativity, skill and imagination to enjoy the museum's excellent presentations involving the fascinating world of science.

The City of St. Petersburg now owns Sunken Gardens, an attraction that continues to fascinate our visitors.


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