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Top 3 Local Museums

The Gulf Coast of Florida has approximately 360 days of sunshine but into every life (and sometimes vacation) a little rain must fall. Have no fear that rain need dampen your enthusiasm for the area during any given day. Though known for sun and surf, there are many interesting things to see about town. Locally there are several museums to add a touch of culture and sophistication to your vacation destination. And somewhere to either hide out from that stray gray cloud or soak up some ice cold air while revelling in the inspiring creativity of renowned artists of today and yesterday. Whether you are seeking something somber and austere such as the dutch masters or seemingly impossible sculpture in the fragile medium of glass, you can probably find it nearby.

The Dali Museum is an expertly curated museum that shares a wide assortment of Salvador Dali works to delight and inspire visitors. The collection includes 96 oil paintings, many original drawings, bookworks, sculpture, prints, photos, manuscripts and an extensive collections of documents that demonstrate every moment in every medium of his artistic activity. The building itself is a stunning work of art and conversation piece overlooking Tampa Bay. In addition to this, many other works of art are loaned here for interesting comparison to a variety of artists. This is a favorite for locals and visitors alike, so expect crowds. Recent exhibits included 'Picasso/Dali, Dali/Picasso' and 'Dali & Da Vinci: Minds, Machines & Masterpieces'. Call for fee and hours. Phone: 727-8233767.

Dale Chihuly is an American glass sculptor and enterpeneur whose works are considered unique to the field of blown glass, moving it into the realm of large scale sculputure. The technical difficulties with working with this medium are considerable, yet Chihuly uses it as the primary medium for installations and environmental work. This collection, found at the Morean Arts Center, is an amazing installation of Chihuly's uniqute works showcased in a magnificent 10,000 square foot setting. Included are spectacular large-scale installations such as Ruby Red Icecicle Chandelier created specifically for the Collection along with several popular series works including Macchia, Ikebana, Niijima Floats, Persians and Tumbleweeds which have thrilled audiences around the globe. Click the hyper link or phone for admission fees and times. Phone: 727-896-4527

The mission of this fine museum is to 'increase and diffuse knowledge and appreciation for art, to collect and preserve objects of artistic interest and merit' and to 'protect works of art, to provide facilities for research, and offer instruction and opportunities for aesthetic enjoyment of art'. It succeeds on all points, with many of the permanent exhibits in varied mediums available for persual often at your leisure. There are walks back in time with old photographs and prints as well oil paintings, sculptures from far lands and distant times, and period furniture that itself offers a glimpse into the past. If you are feeling peckish, the MFA Cafe has a spectacular view of the bay, inside during inclement weather and al fresco on the patio during nicer days. Upcoming exhibitions include 'Marks Made: Prints by American Women Artists from the 1960s to the Present' and 'I Remember Birmingham'. Phone ahead for hours and information. Phone: 727-896-2667

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