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Henry B. Plant Museum

Revisit the Victorian Age of Tampa in this museum housed in part of a palatial former hotel now known as the "first Magic Kingdom.”

The Henry B. Plant Museum offers a unique choice of attraction to visit during your Florida vacation. Appreciate the luxury of America’s Gilded Age and understand the allure that drew elite vacationers to Florida in the late 1800s, long before theme parks existed in the state.

The building hosting the museum is a National Historic Landmark, the former Tampa Bay Hotel, built in 1891 by Henry Bradley Plant, a railroad and shipping magnate. Marvel at this palatial structure with 511 rooms. Covering 6 acres (2.5 hectares), the hotel had a billiard room, flower shop, beauty shop and electricity and telephones in all guest rooms. Plant invested $2.5 million in the building and another $500,000 in furnishings.

The museum occupies a portion of the former hotel. See some of the original furnishings and artworks the Plants collected from Asia and Europe. Education exhibits showcase not only the late Victorian period, but also the burgeoning start of tourism in Florida.

The 150 acres (60 hectares) of the hotel grounds once held an 18-hole golf course, a 2,000-seat auditorium in a casino, stables, kennels, a racetrack and a boathouse. In 1933, the hotel and grounds became home to the Tampa Bay Junior College, and eventually the University of Tampa. Stroll through the campus today and look at minarets, domes and cupolas topping its 5-story gingerbread headquarters in the former hotel, now identified as Plant Hall.

Participate in one of the many events hosted by the museum. Picnic in the Park is an annual event when models in period dress stroll on the lawn. Play croquet, badminton, horseshoes or hoops just as Victorian Floridians did in the early days of the hotel. The Music in the Museum events recreate the popular daily concerts from earlier times.

Visit the Henry B. Plant Museum any Tuesday through Sunday year-round except Thanksgiving and Christmas. Seniors, students and children pay reduced admission. Join a docent-led tour on third Sundays of the month and stay for a performance of Upstairs Downstairs, a 30-minute live theater event depicting turn-of-the-century hotel guests and staff. Find the museum in the south wing of the Tampa Bay Hotel on the University of Tampa grounds.


Guide to Exploring around Henry B. Plant Museum


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