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Museums in St. Petersburg, Florida

Museums in St. Petersburg, Florida

You may be surprised to know that there are tons of museums in St. Petersburg, Florida.  St. Petersburg is a popular vacation spot best known for its sunshine and beaches.

However, the city is also an epicenter of art and culture. St. Petersburg has curated an eclectic art scene, including work by Chihuly and Salvador Dalí. The city also has two interactive museums and a selection of historical venues.

There is a museum suitable for every interest. Explore this great city and check out a few of the best museums in St. Petersburg along the way. Here’s our list of the top 10 museums in St. Petersburg, Florida.

How many museums are there in St. Petersburg Florida?

Museum enthusiasts love visiting St. Petersburg as there are 31 museums in St. Petersburg Florida. There are historical and cultural museums, art collections, and even an explorative children’s museum. There are so many great museums waiting to be explored, make sure to add them to your St Petersburg vacation itinerary.

What is the biggest museum in St. Petersburg?

The James Museum is the biggest museum in St. Petersburg. With 88,000 square feet of space, there is so much to see at this museum. As well as exhibition space the museum’s first floor has a shop, café, and saloon bar. The second floor has around 26,000 square feet of gallery space.

a green bench warped with a melting clock in Salvador Dali style in front of the concrete and glass Dali Museum in St. Petersburg Florida

1. The Dali Museum

The Dali Museum is one of the best art museums in St. Petersburg, Florida. You’ll recognize the Dali Museum by the distinctive glass bubble protruding from its walls. Its exterior alone is enough to make you want to go inside and explore. This spectacular three-story building is itself a work of art.

Surrealist painter, Salvador Dali is best known for his melting clock paintings. The Dali Museum has over 2,400 pieces of his work for you to discover. The exhibit includes oil paintings, drawings, and sculptures, all representing aspects of Dali’s professional life.

There are more than 100 watercolor paintings as well as nearly 100 oil paintings. Make sure you check out ‘The Hallucinogenic Toreador’, created by Dali between 1969 and 1970. This painting is a massive five foot long! The museum has the largest collection of Dali works outside of Spain and in America.

The Dali Museum is one of the best things to do in St. Petersburg Florida. It’s an art lover’s paradise.

neon sign at the Fairgrounds in St Petersburg

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2. Fairgrounds St. Pete

Fairgrounds is one of the best new museums in St. Petersburg, Florida. Right in the center of the Warehouse Arts District, this museum screams modernism. The museum takes its name from the traditional children’s fairgrounds. These fairgrounds always provided new creative talents with a way of expressing themselves. Fairgrounds St. Pete embraces the same ethos. More than 60 local and international artists contributed to Fairground’s marvelous art experience.

Fairgrounds is an immersive art and technology show. Each room is filled with colorful projections, wacky artwork, and vibrant lights. This eye-popping museum also tells some unique Florida stories.

Fairgrounds is a sort of, build-your-own adventure experience. A story about a missing couple is presented to visitors upon their arrival. You can then decide the narrative of the story by searching for clues. The story’s ending is completely up to you. So, grab a scavenger hunt map and explore the art whilst looking for clues.

Alternatively, you can simply view the museum for what it is, art! Each corner of the museum is crammed with loads of energetic artwork.

Fairgrounds is one of the best St. Petersburg attractions to visit with friends. Alternatively, bring the whole family as it’s perfect for kids, teenagers, and adults.

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  • Address: 800 28th Street South, St Petersburg

3. Imagine Museum of Contemporary Glass Art

The Imagine Museum showcases modern fine art glass from around the world. The fine art glass movement started in America in the 1960’s and spread worldwide. This museum showcases the history of this exceptional art form. Throughout the American Studio Glass Movement, heaps of stunning art pieces have been created.

The museum has an array of pieces from artists across the globe. The glasswork on display is mostly from the U.S. and Europe. Each piece expresses the artist’s distinctive style. Other pieces in the collection come from Australia, China, South Korea, and Japan.

Karen LaMonte’s draped dress and Tim Tate’s optical illusion are two impressive glassworks. Looking at these sculptures it’s hard to comprehend that they are made from glass. Most visitors are left wondering how it’s possible to blow glass into such intricate shapes.

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  • Address: 1901 Central Avenue, St Petersburg
person at Chihuly Collection museum in St Petersburg Florida

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4. The Chihuly Collection

The Chihuly Collection is a permanent exhibit within the Morean Arts Center. The collection focuses on world-renowned American glass artist Dale Chihuly’s work. If you have ever been to the Bellagio in Vegas, you may recognize Chihuly’s work. Fiori Di Como consists of 2,000 glass flowers that cover the hotel’s ceiling.

Chihuly’s glass work is other-worldly and always flamboyant. Dale Chihuly once said, “I never met a color I didn’t like”. You can see this clearly throughout the exhibition. 18 remarkable glass installations fill the exhibition space. Wander around the rooms and you will be amazed that everything is made from glass.

This is one of the top St. Petersburg attractions for those aspiring artists. With each ticket to The Chihuly Collection, you can watch a live glass blowing demonstration. If you want to try it yourself, the Chihuly Collection offers exhilarating workshops. You can learn how to safely blow glass and even experiment with glass jewelry making.

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  • Address: 720 Central Avenue, St Petersburg

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outside of the museum of fine arts in St Petersburg Florida

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5. Museum of Fine Arts

Those interested in fine art will love this next St Petersburg Museum. The Museum of Fine Arts houses one of the best art collections on Florida’s west coast. Founded in 1965 by Margaret Acheson Stuart, this museum was made a public landmark in 1965. The museum is filled with art, spanning more than 5,000 years. There’s so much to see in the museum, with more than 20,000 pieces on display.

The museum has work from European artists like Renoir, Monet, and De Kooning. It also presents work from American painters, O’Keeffe, and Rauschenberg. As well as paintings, the museum has an extensive photography collection. There is now an assortment of more than 16,000 photographic items on display. This is one of the largest photographic collections in the Southern United States. This exhibit is one of the best museums in St. Petersburg, Florida for aspiring photographers.

After you’ve visited the museum, you can explore the sculpture garden. It’s a great way to end any trip to the Museum of Fine Art.

large indoor tree house as the centerpiece of the Great explorations Children's Museum of St. Pete Florida

6. Great Explorations Children’s Museum

The Great Exploration Children’s Museum is a fantastic sensory learning and play area for kids. The museum is filled with exhibitions that stimulate creativity, excitement, and understanding.

Watch as your child enjoys a diverse range of fun exhibitions. “Live On Air” lets children present news and weather shows in front of the camera. The Augmented Reality Sandbox creates an interactive 3D world, full of explorative and building excitement. The “I Dream in Lego” corner alone will keep the little ones entertained for hours. Longo’s Cove is an intriguing-looking jungle gym that will excite any child. The museum’s kid-sized STEAM Station is a good shout for all those aspiring scientists. Exploring “Morris’ Pizza Kitchen” is fantastic for those with creative minds.

This is one of the best museums in St. Petersburg Florida for kids. You’ll spend hours exploring this educational and interactive museum.

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  • Address: 1925 4th Street N, St Petersburg

7. Dr. Carter G. Woodson African American Museum

The Dr. Carter G. Woodson African American Museum is the best free museum in St. Petersburg. Dr Woodson is considered the father of Black History Month. This museum preserves and showcases the culture, history, and art of African Americans. It is also the only museum of its kind in St. Petersburg.

Head to the waterfront area and you’ll find most of St. Petersburg’s museums. However, this museum is in the community where local African American culture was born. The museum, therefore, provides a detailed perspective of local African American life.

This museum is a celebration of Black culture and history. The museum teaches visitors the importance of social justice and diversity. There’s artwork here that you can’t find in any other St Petersburg gallery or museum.

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  • Address: 2240 9th Avenue S, St Petersburg
inside the St Petersburg museum of history

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8. St. Petersburg Museum of History

The St. Petersburg Museum of History is perfect for history buffs, locals, and tourists. In 2022 the museum celebrated its 100th birthday, markings its place in St. Petersburg’s history. The St. Petersburg Museum of History is the oldest museum in the county. The museum displays the history of St. Petersburg and the communities of the Pinellas Peninsula.

Inside you’ll discover the city’s past as well as more contemporary history. One of the best parts of the museum is seeing the original Benoist XIV. Benoist XIV was the plane used for the world’s first scheduled commercial airline flight. On January 1, 1914, the Benoist XIV flew successfully from St. Petersburg to Tampa. Looking at this seaplane you’ll appreciate just how far aviation has come.

There’s also a display of 5,000 photographs collected throughout the city’s history. If you’re into baseball check, out the 4,800 signed baseball cards on display. This museum is a celebration of local St Petersburg history. Around 60,000 artifacts in the museum have been donated by residents of St. Pete’s.

This is one of the best museums in St. Petersburg to learn about the area.

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  • Address: 335 2nd Avenue NE, St Petersburg

9. The James Museum of Western and Wildlife Art

If you are in downtown St. Petersburg, you must check out The James Museum. The James Museum is home to a large collection of paintings, sculptures, artifacts, and jewelry. Artifacts are themed around Native American culture and the heritage of the American West.

The museum was founded by Tom and Mary James as a gift to the city. Their personal collection of western wildlife and cultural artifacts has over 3,000 pieces. The museum became their personal project and open in 2018, displaying 500 pieces. All the artwork on display is from the 20th or 21st century. Intricate sculptures and pictures of wildlife will make you think twice about whether they are real. Displays of traditional Native American clothing tell the stories of their people’s history.

This St. Petersburg museum is more than just art. It is also an ambient and calming experience. The museum’s sandstone-colored walls make you feel like you are in a Western United States canyon. Peaceful traditional music plays as you wander through the themed exhibition spaces.

The James’ have created an irreplaceable museum that really illuminated Western American culture and wildlife. If you want a calming break from busy downtown life head to the James Museum.

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  • Address: 150 Central Avenue, St Petersburg

10. The Florida Holocaust Museum

This museum pays tribute to the 6 million Jews who were killed during the Holocaust. This senseless extermination took place during the 1940s, in Hitler’s Nazi Germany. The museum provides a way of connecting with those who suffered during this time.

The museum has four permanent exhibitions as well as rotating exhibition spaces. The Boxcar exhibit is one of the last remaining railroad boxcars from the Holocaust. These boxcars were used to transport Jews and other prisoners to Auschwitz. It is harrowing to imagine how 100 people could be crammed into one boxcar. Of course, many did not survive the journey.

The main exhibition ‘History, Heritage, and Hope’ displays the Holocaust’s complete history. Understand more about the rise of Hitler and the Nazis. Learn about the concentration camps and killing centers. Finally, a reflection of other genocides happening today is brought to visitors’ attention.

If you want to learn more about the Holocaust, be sure to visit this museum. Visiting the museum is a good way to honor those who lost their lives. It’s also a St. Petersburg attraction that will stay with you for a long time.

After visiting a few of the museums in St. Petersburg make sure to check out one of the theaters in St. Petersburg or galleries. 

Theaters in St. Petersburg

  • Duke Energy Center for the Arts (Mahaffey Theater)
  • State Theatre
  • American Stage
  • The Palladium Theater
  • St. Petersburg City Theater
  • St. Pete Opera Company
  • The Studio@620
  • The Florida Orchestra
  • freeFall Theatre Company

Galleries in St. Petersburg

  • Duncan McClellan Gallery
  • Morean Arts Center
  • Morean Center for Clay
  • Morean Glass Studio
  • The Studio@620
  • Florida Craft Art
  • Shapiro’s Gallery
  • The Chihuly Collection
  • Gallerie 909
  • Creative Clay
  • MIZE Gallery
  • Wyland Galleries of St. Petersburg
  • Ocean Blue Galleries
  • Leslie Curran Gallery