Florida Souvenirs, Collectibles On Display At Tampa Bay History Center

By Kathy Collins

The new exhibit at the Tampa Bay History Center (History Center) is called Bringing Home the Sunshine: Collecting Florida Souvenirs. This fun collection will be on display through Sunday, April 17 in the Wayne Thomas Gallery on the third floor of the History Center located in downtown Tampa.

Bringing Home the Sunshine takes a look at Florida’s colorful knick-knaks, and includes everything from vintage tourist brochures, postcards and pennants to flatware and ceramics. The items come from collections at the University of South Florida, private collectors and the History Center’s archives.

Bringing Home the Sunshine will also include late Highwaymen artist Robert Butler’s final painting, as well as vintage-inspired prints of local tourist attractions and landmarks by artist Tim Boatright.

Many of the items that are on display have been collected by institutions such as the History Center and USF. However, they are not often put on display. History Center curator, Rodney Kite-Powell said, “A show like this gives us a chance to highlight some of the more unusual parts of our collection. We have a lot on display in our main galleries, but there’s a lot the public does not get to see.”

The same is true for USF’s Special Collections. These items are an invaluable resource for researchers and academics. The collection features tens of thousands of documents, books and photographs. According to USF Librarian Andy Huse, “This exhibit allows us to display some of our fun but lesser-known materials.”

Florida has been a tourist mecca for many years. Even without air conditioning, natural Florida, with its year-round, near-perfect weather, was enough to entice visitors from across the country and around the world who have traveled to Florida since the late 1800s.

The History Center includes three floors of permanent and temporary exhibition space where guests can see 12,000 years of Florida History. It is a great destination for families with its hands-on, cutting edge interactive exhibits. The History Center is located at 801 Old Water St. (adjacent to Amalie Arena). Visit www.tampabayhistorycenter.org or call 228-0097.