The James Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida was founded by Tom and Mary James, who have collected Western, Indian, and cowboy art and jewelry for many years. Their collection was formerly housed in the Raymond James offices in St. Pete, but is now in a new museum space that opened in spring of 2018.
The outside and inside of the museum is faced with sandstone imported from India. It’s located at 150 Central Avenue in downtown St. Pete, in what used to be a high rise parking garage. According to an article in the Tampa Bay Business Journal, even though the museum can showcase over 400 pieces of art, it represents only about 13% of the James’ entire collection. The James couple has invested more than $50 million of their own money to establish the museum.
There’s parking nearby the museum (cash only to park in the closet parking garage). The museum is open daily from 10 AM to 5 PM, and on Tuesdays until 8 PM. You can get details about ticket pricing on the Museum’s website.
This is a great place to explore if you’re visiting St. Pete and want to get off the beaches and out of the sun for a break. The museum is kept very cool, at about 65 F, in accordance with international museum standards. You’ll find guided tours, family days, gallery talks, live music and more during each month at The James Museum.
Personally, I found The Jewel Box, an inner room housing some of Mary James’ western jewelry collection, of special interest. The pieces are stunning! One of the squash blossom necklaces is the most unusual and beautiful I’ve ever seen.
A docent can take you through about a 45-minute overview of the museum, or you can browse on your own. It’s interesting to listen to the docent’s explanations and then go back through the museum on your own time. There’s also an 8 minute video about the history of the collection and why Mary and Tom James are so passionate about Western art.
When you’ve had your fill of the many outstanding art objects, you can stop by the museum’s shop and restaurant. Our lunch of Cola pork barbecue was very good. The menu reflects the museum in that the food is Western themed and presented.
While St. Pete is known for its world-class beaches, you can now explore this world-class museum, too. Pick up one of the programs at the door to see what the special rotating exhibits are in the temporary exhibit hall, and browse through the many galleries. The gift shop is a great place to pick up gifts, too!
The James Museum of Western and Wildlife Art
150 Central Avenue
St. Petersburg, FL 33701
See more of the collection on Instagram @jamesmuseum