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Tampa Bay History Center Expansion to Focus on Pirates and Shipwrecks

TAMPA, Florida — The Tampa Bay History Center will increase its exploration of Tampa’s local pirate lore with an $11 million expansion.

The new Treasure Seekers: Conquistadors, Pirates and Shipwrecks gallery will focus on explorers who landed in La Florida more than 500 years ago, pirates who wreaked havoc along Florida’s coasts in the 17th and 18th centuries, and efforts to recover long-forgotten shipwrecks from Florida’s waters.

The gallery will feature a 60-foot replica sailing vessel and rare artifacts recovered from shipwrecks off the coast of Florida, including 400-year-old navigational tools, weaponry and pottery.

The new Treasure Seekers gallery is part of an 8,500-square-foot expansion on the third floor that will also include the Touchton Map Library/Florida Center for Cartographic Education, which will be home to some 6,000 maps dating back to the discovery of the New World and will be the only research library of its kind in the Southeastern United States.

Opened in 2009 on Tampa’s Riverwalk, the Smithsonian affiliate Tampa Bay History Center tells the stories of the Tampa Bay area and Hillsborough County.

Construction of the new gallery began in January and is scheduled for completion in the fall.