Tampa Museum of Art celebrates its centennial year

Kent Skelpoonagh’s “Bay Donegal Ireland, 1926-7”


The Tampa Museum of Art presents 100 important works from its permanent collection in celebration of the upcoming 100-year anniversary in 2020. In recognition of this landmark occasion, the Museum has organized “The Making of a Museum: 100 Years, 100 Works,” which will be on view through March 15.

The 100 objects selected represent works important to founding the museum and the growth of its permanent collections. With significant holdings of ancient Greek and Roman art, as well as Modern and Contemporary art, the collection is unique. Today, the Museum’s collection includes more than 7,000 objects with works of art acquired each year. In this exhibition, objects made in an array of media and created over different periods of time are juxtaposed to create new dialogues. Together, the works on view reveal the story of the Tampa Museum of Art.

“It is such an honor to participate in the museum’s 100th anniversary through the organization of the exhibition ‘The Making of a Museum: 100 Years, 100 Works’,” Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art Joanna Robotham said. “The permanent collection has provided me with a unique perspective on the history of the Tampa Museum of Art and the extraordinary individuals in our community who have helped build our Museum. This is a special time to be part of the Tampa Museum of Art and I look forward to celebrating the centennial in 2020.”

“The Making of a Museum: 100 Years, 100 Works” explores the collection through four different themes: “Building a Collection,” “Inspired By,” “Soil, Sea, and Sky” and “Figure Forward.”

In Lemonopoulos Gallery, one of the galleries dedicated to Classical Antiquity, select works on view highlight the theme of “Building a Collection.” Visitors will encounter Black-Figure Column Krater (Mixing Vessel), ca. 510 BC, the first object the museum purchased in 1981. In 1986, the museum acquired the Joseph V. Noble Collection, a major private collection of 150 ancient objects. The Noble Collection prompted additional gifts from regional collectors and the museum soon amassed an impressive collection of black-and-red figure pottery from Greece and South Italy. In MacKechnie Gallery, 18th, 19th, and 20th century works are placed in dialogue with ancient objects to illustrate the continued influence of the classical world on modern artistic practices. Entitled Inspired By, this section includes several objects representative of the C. Paul Jennewein Collection, an extensive archive of Neo-Classical artworks by the American sculptor.

The Tampa Museum of Art’s collection also houses an evolving collection of Modern and Contemporary art. In two galleries, Sullivan Gallery and Ferman Gallery, the objects on view demonstrate the two main motifs of the Modern and Contemporary collection: landscape and portraiture. In Sullivan Gallery, representations of the “Soil, Sea, and Sky” are evident in key works by artists Martin Fletcher, Rockwell Kent, Robert Rauschenberg, and Alma Thomas. Ferman Gallery presents interpretations of portraiture and the body through the theme of “Figure Forward.” This gallery presents works from the late 1800s to the present and includes photography by Berenice Abbott and Garry Winogrand; figurative sculpture made by Jacques Lipchitz and Pepe Mar; paintings created by Louise Nevelson and Theo Wujcik and rare prints by Mary Cassatt and Marc Chagall.

From its beginnings as Tampa Museum of the Fine Arts (1920-1923) to the burgeoning Tampa Art Institute (1923-1966) and the Tampa Bay Art Center (1966-1979), the Tampa Museum of Art has matured in tandem with the growth and cultural prosperity of the Tampa Bay area. As the Museum celebrates its past, it looks towards the next 100 years.

As an accompaniment to the centennial, the Museum is publishing a 200-page history book, “The Making of a Museum: 100 Years, 100 Works,” which will be released in January. The book tells the museum’s story through a combination of interviews and works from the collection.

Founded in 1920, the Tampa Museum of Art inspires by providing engaging exhibitions and innovative educational programs that emphasize ancient, modern and contemporary art. As the Tampa Museum of Art nears its 100th anniversary, its exhibitions in part will focus on the breadth of the institution’s growing permanent collection.

The museum houses one of the largest Greek and Roman antiquities collections in the southeastern United States. As one of the region’s largest museums devoted to the art of our time, the Museum’s collection also embraces sculpture, photography, painting, new media, and more. With a 14,000 square-foot LED installation of Leo Villareal’s Sky (Tampa) illuminating the south façade and the Museum’s 23-foot tall cast iron sculpture Laura with Bun by Jaume Plensa silhouetted in front of the north façade, the Tampa Museum of Art stands as an iconic landmark of downtown Tampa.


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