Tampa Museum of Art breaks ground
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04/18/08 Seán Kinane
WMNF Drive-Time News Friday | Listen to this entire show:

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Construction of the new Tampa Museum of Art building officially began today with a groundbreaking ceremony at Curtis Hixon Park.

Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio acknowledged the role of the City Council in making the new Art Museum possible. Iorio gave a verbal tour of the attractions that will be along the proposed Riverwalk, including the Tampa Bay History Center, Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park, the new Tampa Museum of Art, Children’s Museum and Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center.

Students from West Tampa Elementary School shoveled dirt as part of the groundbreaking while the theme song to the film “Rocky” played. Minutes before, the Chairman of the Board of the Tampa Museum of Art, Ray Ifert predicted that the new museum would become downtown Tampa’s focal point.

“The Board and everyone is just so excited about what this building will mean for downtown Tampa, what it will mean for Hillsborough County, what it will mean for Tampa Bay.”

The new museum will be 66,000 square feet, which is 20,000 more than the existing museum. But the master plan will allow expansion to 120,000 square feet, according to Ken Rollins the museum’s interim executive director.

The building’s architect, Stanley Saitowitz, flew from his home in San Francisco and spoke about how the museum building would be integrated with the surrounding park.

In the mid-1980s, Tampa City Council Member Linda Saul-Sena worked at the Tampa Art Museum in public relations. She told WMNF how the Community Investment Tax (CIT) was instrumental in making the new museum possible. The CIT is a half-penny sales tax approved by voters in 1996 and, according to the city’s website, it generated $790 million between 1996 and 2006.

Also, the Tampa Museum of Art Foundation announced the community fundraising campaign. People can sponsor 1 square foot of the museum for $404; sponsorships for half- and quarter-square-feet are also available.

Photo credit: Seán Kinane/WMNF

Learn more:

Tampa Museum of Art

Tampa Riverwalk

Tampa’s Community Investment Tax

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