The James Museum: A Family-Friendly Addition to DTSP
Take a look at The James Museum through the eyes of a Sunshine City mom.
If you're a frequenter of Downtown St. Petersburg, you've most likely noticed the massive and equally beautiful 80,000 square foot building located on the 100 block of Central Avenue. The structure itself is a masterpiece, designed by architect Yann Weymouth and the St. Pete Design Group. With its sandstone facade and patinated copper detail, The James Museum of Western and Wildlife Art brings both the landscape of the American West and a welcomed family-friendly oasis to the vibrant palm tree-lined streets of the Sunshine City.
Once inside, visitors to The James Museum are welcomed by an impressive two-story stone arroyo, or water-carved gully, ending in a black granite waterfall. The entrance sets the tone for what awaits upstairs-- room after room showcasing the vast art and jewelry collections of Tom and Mary James. The exhibitions, dotted with bronze sculptures of varying sizes, are divided by genre and theme and effortlessly weave a tale of Western wonder through the minds of art lovers of all ages.
Fun Fact: Approximately 80% of the pieces in the museum's collection were created by currently living artists.
The Western Art exhibitions flow seamlessly into the James' Wildlife Gallery where even the youngest visitors (i.e. my three-year-old) can marvel at the remarkable works of animals found all over the world. The authenticity of the pieces create a kind of static zoo that invites close observation and conversation. This is a good time to point out that sketching and photography- without flash- are welcomed in the museum.
The James Museum excels at offering an engaging cultural experience full of surprises for those seeking to explore the spirit of the West, but the fun doesn't end with the art galleries. According to Education Manager of Youth and Family Programs Nina Caruso, the museum has big plans to secure its spot as a family-friendly destination. Expect to see Family Days, toddler programs, homeschool art classes, school field trips, summer camps, and even the debut of an endearing mascot named Tidbits in the very near future. A children's audio guide is anticipated later.
The James Museum of Western and Wildlife Art opened to the public April 7th; a Grand Opening weekend celebration is scheduled for April 28th and 29th. The two-day celebration will feature Native American dancers, artist talks, live music, and create and take workshops for kids. The event is free for members and free with admission for non-members. Admission is always free for children ages 6 and under. To learn more about membership, visit The James Museum's website.