Trees surround the Tampa Museum of Art, stepped lawns, and a cloudy blue sky.

Tampa Museum of Art

Waterfront museum jewel box

Project Facts

Location Tampa, Florida
Owner City of Tampa
Size 120,000 SF
Cost $26.5 million
Status Completed 2010


Integrated into the downtown waterfront district, the Tampa Museum of Art seemingly hovers above the ground, mirroring the fluidity of the water before it. The building captures and radiates daylight, glistening by day and emitting a colorful glow by night. This architectural gem, conceived as an expansive canvas awaiting the strokes of artistic genius within its walls, offers patrons a genuinely contemporary museum encounter.

The Tampa Museum of Art has blue lights reflected on the water at night.

Inside, the Tampa Museum of Art is open, light, and white, with stairways and seating areas.

At the Tampa Museum of Art there are outside walkways covered by the building with the skyscrapers in the background.

The art at the Tampa Museum of Art is hung on the white walls and placed in display cases.

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About the project

With the adjacent river at sea level, the museum’s primary requirement for programmed space was to ensure all artwork, whether on display or in storage, be kept above the 18-foot floodplain. The architect embraced the opportunity to elevate the art by developing his vision of a beautiful “jewel box” hovering over a plinth of glass recessed beneath it. The illusion is achieved with massive cantilevers that thrust the second and third stories over the museum’s first-floor outdoor promenades. It’s an innovative solution for a practical problem, providing shaded terrace areas and adding more usable space to the building’s footprint.

The museum’s long mass is split in half. A three-level museum-support space on the east half consists of offices, conference rooms, storage, security, receiving, and a “flying balcony” overlooking Tampa’s skyline. A two-level public space is located on the west half. It consists of a lobby, conference rooms, a restaurant, a souvenir store, a grand staircase, a double-story exhibit space, and a balcony overlooking the river and the incredible Florida sunsets.

The Tampa Museum of Art has large, partially enclosed patios that look out into the downtown.


2010 McGraw Hill Southeast Construction Magazine Best of 2010 Award of Excellence (Culture)