Besides being a popular tourist destination, the Clearwater area has many artistic and cultural opportunities and activities. The diverse interests of the museums, theaters and art galleries of Clearwater area attract the visitors of varied interests and tastes and bestows a multi-dimensional profile to the area. Throughout the many unique communities, few places in Florida offer such a great variety of art galleries and museums like the general Clearwater area and especially in nearby St. Petersburg.
The historic Capitol Theatre was built in 1921. It is one of the oldest operating theaters in Florida. While comparatively small by today's standards, the theatre retains its original charm. The theatre actively promotes various entertainment including music, comedy, dance and movies shows.
More at: Capitol Theatre
A new era of celebrating arts and culture began in Clearwater in 1977, with June Baumgardner Gelbart donating 38 acres of land to the City. The desire of the donor was to use this land for establishing a performing arts center to develop arts and cultural activities. In 1978, a private non-profit organization called the Performing Arts Center and Theater, Inc. (PACT, Inc.) was established by the city to direct all its operations, which was eventually renamed as Ruth Eckerd Hall Foundation, Inc in 2007.
A state-of-the art concert hall was constructed at the site and Ruth Eckerd Hall was dedicated to the community in 1983. A world-class 2,180-seat auditorium is the central feature of this magnificent 73,000 square foot facility. Every year, around 200 events are hosted by the center arranged by the foundation governing the center, reputed arts organizations of the nation, and by the community groups. The acoustically perfect chamber provides a unique experience to the listeners. The handsome and finely equipped hall stages a variety of artistic and cultural activities ranging into musical shows, dance troupes, stand-up comedies, orchestras, theater, and musical shows, in addition to special children shows.
A nation-wide poll of technicians, artists and their management has nominated Ruth Eckerd Hall among the top five concert halls in the United States. In addition, the hall has also secured the 1986 Governor's design award from the state of Florida for excellence in facility development. In total each year about 350,000 audience members visit Ruth Eckerd Hall for various performances witnessing grand presentations by globally reputed classical artists, dance companies, pop stars and Broadway musicals. Annually more than 200,000 students and adults are benefited through the various art educational programs conducted by the center. See schedule and more information at: Ruth Eckerd Hall.
The Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg, part of the Progress Energy Center for the Arts, is one such venue. (The Progress Energy Center also includes a 7-acre park and a plaza for public and flexible use.) This European-style theater is truly one of the most elegant theaters in Florida and it continues to attract music aficionados from all over the greater Tampa area and beyond with its fine array of offerings. See schedule and more information at: Mahaffey Theater.
Salvador Dali is a world famous museum located on the beachfront of St. Petersburg. The site exhibits the amazing masterpieces of this Spanish painter ranging in 96 oil paintings, a diverse set of watercolors, incredible sculptures, sketches and many other objects of art. On the whole, there are about 2,500 exhibits. Dali's accomplishments and masterpieces are steeped in the surrealistic tradition bringing it live before our eyes. The works of his earlier life were dedicated to still lifes, portraits and landscapes, while the later works feature astounding double images and religious themes. The Salvador Dali museum exhibits some of the original masterpieces from this accomplished artist.
Florida International Museum in St. Petersburg is an affiliate unit of the Smithsonian Institution. This internationally reputed museum displays the temporary exhibits in a rotating manner supplied by the Smithsonian institution, and other national and international sources. Past exhibits have included Titanic: The Exhibition, Splendors of Ancient Egypt, Treasures of the Czars, Alexander the Great and other equally significant and popular presentations.
The Museum of Fine Arts of St. Petersburg has established a widespread recognition for its wonderful collection of the Impressionistic paintings of France in addition to notable masterpieces from various parts of Europe and America. The center also features a collection of Far Eastern and pre-Columbian art besides some special exhibits on loan from certain top rated metropolitan museums.
Great Explorations, The Children's Museum is located very close to the Museum of Fine Art. This interactive museum is totally dedicated to children's themes. The museum is best characterized by their mission statement: "Our Mission is to stimulate learning through creativity, play and exploration. We aspire to Make Better Kids by Making Learning Fun, and we value Safety, Trust, Fun and Passion". This is indeed a wonderful place for children to spend hours having fun while learning.
The St. Petersburg Museum of History features the history of this area illustratively projected by an assorted collection of pieces heralding the cultural heritage and uniqueness of St. Petersburg and the Pinellas County area, which includes Clearwater.
Featuring the same lines, the Carter G. Woodson African American History Museum is commuted to projecting, illustrating and preserving the area's African American history.
Another notable museum worth visiting in downtown St. Petersburg is the Florida Holocaust Museum. Dedicated to the memory of millions victimized during World War II, this museum houses some of the renowned Holocaust art exhibits. This place is rated as the third largest Holocaust museum in the United States and the only one of its kind in the area. Permanently kept in the museum, the central feature of this center is a boxcar employed in the transportation of people to the Nazi concentration camps.
The Dunedin Fine Arts Center offers a diverse range of exhibits, demonstrations and workshops to preserve and promote the development and growth of visual arts. The center offers many adult and youth classes, as well as children's summer camps. Within this center is also the David L. Mason Children's Art Museum, which is devoted to encouraging the creative talents in children and to help them understand the essentials of art.
At Pinewood Cultural Park in Largo, The Gulf Coast Museum of Art is a established center offering a variety of exhibitions, educational events and workshops. This contemporary art museum has a number of permanent and visiting exhibits featuring artwork by Florida artists and Southeastern fine crafts, along with sculpture gardens.
Also located at the Pinewood Cultural Park in Largo, is Heritage Village, which features a 21-acre historical recreation of 28 structures. The village represents this Florida area as it was from the 1850's through the early 1900's.
The 150 acre Florida Botanical Gardens features scenic landscapes, gardens and native habitats. In addition to the themed and colorful gardens, Florida native and tropical plants are on display.
A Monthly Gallery Walk is one of the most interesting events organized by The Downtown Arts Association in St. Petersburg. Many local Galleries offer extended hours on the second Saturday evening each month with occasional special themes or on-site artists. The walk starts at Gallery Central located between the 4th and 8th streets of the Central Avenue and passes through the Waterfront, the Dome and the art districts of SoHo eventually on to the 4th and 9th streets North.