Tampa Bay History Center debuts Saturday listen01/15/09 Andrea Lypka
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Crews and volunteers were finishing up the final preparations on Wednesday for the grand opening of the Tampa Bay History Center.
The museum in Tampaâ€™s Channelside District will open its doors for the public on Saturday in a new "green" edifice that will be the first Hillsborough County-owned sustainable building seeking LEED-certification, said C.J. Roberts museum president and CEO. He said that a 20-year endeavor has come to fruition.
The project cost $52 million and the construction lasted 14 months. Roberts hopes the history center will be more than a museum and it will become a gathering place for the community. With interactive multimedia exhibits and map gallery, the 60,000-square-foot museum features a walk through 12,000 years of history, including the Seminole wars and the history of the cigar industry of the area.
The museum boasts the glass-enclosed Lykes Atrium with Tampa Bayâ€™s icons. Manny Leto is the History Centerâ€™s outreach coordinator and he has been living in Tampa since 1976. One of his favorite spots is the cigar storefront. â€œWe re-created a 1920â€™s era cigar store. The original cases, the cash register are from the El Pasaje hotel in Ybor City, as well as the advertising art, the boxes and labels,â€ he said. He has been working for the museum for three months and he said that it has been unique opportunity for him to watch the building of a museum from the ground up. â€œItâ€™s not every day that you open a museum,â€ he said.
Tampa Bay History Center will also host a Military Day on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The event is free for the military. The center is located at 801 Old Water St., formerly St. Pete Times Forum Drive.
For more information, visit Tampa Bay History Centerâ€™s website.