Imagine – St Pete’s New Glass Museum


Imagine Museum is a welcome addition to the vibrant St. Pete arts scene

By Marcia Biggs

John Lennon would no doubt be amused. The new Imagine Museum, in the heart of St. Petersburg’s  up-and-coming Grand Central District , is a dream brought to reality.  Within a mile or 

so of two nationally-renowned  glass art destinations  – the Morean Arts Center’s  Chihuly Collection and Duncan McClellan Studios –  Imagine  creates a Holy Trinity of fine art glass museums  near downtown.  

Add in a growing number of smaller galleries, studios and hot shops throughout the city’s arts districts and it’s clear that Imagine Museum will be a major player in Tampa Bay cultural arts tourism, joining a flourishing arts community along the Gulf Coast of Florida.      

“This will be an incredible addition to the city’s cultural assets and will be yet one more reason for tourists to visit,” said Wayne Atherholt,  director of the Office of Cultural Affairs for the City of St. Petersburg.   “Imagine Museum continues to expand the arts west along Central Avenue following the relocation of the Chihuly Collection in the Central Arts District. The educational opportunities around glass will be phenomenal.   The museum’s  location just north of the Warehouse Arts District makes it is well positioned to attract visitors.”

A  bright blue three-story exterior (it was previously a bank and a charter school) hints at the colorful treasures that lie within.   Nine galleries are filled with contemporary American  glass art , a temple of awe and inspiration in ground-breaking glass technique,  and most of all imagination.  

The  collection spans the  American Studio Glass Movement from its birth in the 1960’s to the present.  The movement  started in 1962 with pioneers Harvey Littleton and Dominick Labino at the Toledo Museum of Art when they created and built a small furnace for melting glass designed for an individual artist studio. 

Studio glass is extremely diverse  ranging in size and subject matter from nature and the human form to geometric and abstract.  Techniques include  blowing, casting, intricate flame work, layering, grinding and polishing.

“It is our goal to educate people about this particular glass movement,” said Jane Buckman, the museum’s deputy director. “We give established and  emerging glass artists  an opportunity to show in a fine arts museum.”


The museum was the vision of local glass collector and artist  Trish Duggan who contracted with Habatat Galleries in Royal Oak, Michigan, to curate and compile the stunning  collection.  Visitors are greeted by an open, two-story light-filled lobby complete with a Kahwa coffee café  and large  museum shop overflowing with jewel-tone glass art to take home.

 Step inside the dimly lit white and black galleries with dramatic lighting, and the art often appears to float in mid-air. The visitor walks through time as each gallery  moves through the decades of the Studio Glass Movement.

The permanent collection contains more than 450 pieces by 55  glass artists from across the country,  although all are not on exhibit at once. Yes, there is a nod to glass pioneer Dale Chihuly with several pieces of his early work.

What makes this collection special is that many of the artists are still alive and working, said Buckman.

For grand opening week in late January, she was expecting hundreds of glass artists and collectors from across the country to converge on Tampa Bay and Sarasota. The museum opening was being held in conjunction with  Sarasota Glass Weekend.  

Image Museum
1901 Central Avenue
St. Petersburg
For hours and admission information, go to