The Tampa Bay History Center, located in downtown Tampa along the Riverwalk, has unveiled its first significant expansion since opening in 2009. The 8,500 sq. ft. addition is known as ‘Treasure Seekers: Conquistadors, Pirates and Shipwrecks.’

The new permanent gallery features a 6o ft., 18th century pirate ship. The new addition also introduces visitors to explorers who landed in ‘La Florida’ more than 500 years ago. Visitors will also learn about little known pirates such as ‘Calico’ Jack Rackham and Anne Bonny. They prowled Florida’s coasts in the 1700’s.

The new gallery also teaches visitors about the science and technology of shipwreck recovery. Visitors can see how old vessels are recovered from the ocean floor. Additionally, the expanded gallery includes the Touchton Map Library/Florida Center for Cartographic Education (TML/FCCE). This is a partnership with the University of South Florida, and it will feature 6,000 maps of Florida and the Caribbean. The maps date back to the 15th century.

History Center President and CEO, C.J. Roberts said, “We are telling a Florida story.” Roberts added, “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.”

The expansion comes just in time for families to visit over Spring Break. You can learn about Florida’s maritime history by way of the latest in museum technology, including hologram pirates, an immersive, choose-your-own adventure theatre experience, and a celestial ellipse on the gallery ceiling showing how sailors used the stars to traverse unknown oceans.

There are many items on view to the public for the first time. These include world class artifacts which are nearly 400 years old. You can get a look at navigational tools, jewelry, coins, pottery and other rare items recovered off of Florida’s coast.

The Tampa Bay History Center is located at 801 Old Water St. in downtown Tampa. The Tampa Bay History Center is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week.

For more information, please visit www.tampabayhistorycenter.org or call 228-0097.