Out with the pirates, in with the new: Plant Museum’s newest exhibit to debut

A glistening “G” adorns a purple, velvet robe. Nearby, rhinestones sparkle, affixed to a crown made of cardboard.

These were just a few of the many elaborate and colorful costumes in H.B. Plant Museum’s Gasparilla exhibit, which closed last week.

“The crown was made in such short notice that it is made out of cardboard and pins,” said Gianna Russo, the Curator of Education at H.B. Plant Museum. “It is amazing that it is still intact today.”

H.B. Plant Museum’s treasure chest of Gasparilla memorabilia shut its doors on March 2, after almost two months of being on display. Last weekend was the last chance to view the costumes, letters, coins, and various other items dating back to the first Gasparilla celebration in 1904. One of the oldest items is a crown worn by the first Gasparilla Queen.

Some tourists were unhappy to hear that the exhibit would be replaced with a new and different display.

“I cannot believe they are getting rid of the Gasparilla exhibit,” said Pablo Villamil, a tourist from Puerto Rico. “My family and I did not understand why so many homes in Tampa had pirate flags because aren’t pirates supposed to be bad? But after visiting the exhibit we better understand this custom.”

But Villamil and his family do not have to be upset because the annual Gasparilla exhibit will be open again next year.

The museum’s popular Gasparilla display will be replaced with “Mementos from Under the Minarets,” a new exhibit devoted to Tampa Bay Hotel memorabilia. The exhibit will include current items on display at the museum as well as items from private collectors in the Tampa Bay area.

“The new exhibit contains really neat stuff,” said Russo. “It is all memorabilia from the Tampa Bay Hotel, even items that have not been seen in the museum before.”

The exhibit is set to open on March 16. That same day, the museum will have their annual Picnic in the Park. The event is happening in Plant Park, which makes some visitors happy to hear that it is just a walking distance to the museum’s new exhibit.

“It is going to be a lot of fun,” said local visitor, Charles Little. “I can bring my kids to a day in the park and then we can all learn some history at the museum.”

The Plant Museum is open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday, 12 Noon to 4 p.m.

For more information on Henry B. Plant Museum visit http://plantmuseum.com

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