The Gasparilla invasion takes over the Henry B. Plant Museum! Join us for an exhibit on the rich history of Tampa’s oldest and most fun-loving community festival. The new exhibit, Gasparilla: A Tampa Tradition explores Tampa’s premier party, attended by a motley crew of the famous and infamous, the beautiful people and bad dudes. Learn more about the early Gasparilla parades and enjoy vintage photographs from 1904 to the present. Gasparilla: A Tampa Tradition will run from January 19th to March 4th, 2018 and is underwritten by Steve and Janice Straske.
This year the Museum is proud to feature three Gasparilla gowns designed by African American fashion designer, Ann Lowe. Lowe began her career in Tampa in the 1920s and her fashions are highly regarded today. She is best known for creating the bridal gown and bridesmaids gowns for Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy in 1953. Each of the Gasparilla gowns is rare and unique featuring elaborate beaded designs. The gowns have never before been exhibited together. They were worn to Gasparilla Balls and Coronations in 1924, 1926, and 1957. The dresses underwent a two-year conservation treatment (underwritten by The Henry B. Plant Museum Society, Inc.) and were stabilized and repaired by Conservator Jessica Hack of New Orleans.
In addition to early memorabilia and original gowns, visitors can enjoy film coverage on the celebration. "Memories of Gasparilla Festivals" includes scenes from the 1920s and reveals pirate capers and images of early parades. This film is from the private collection of the Howell family. It is narrated by John Boushall, III; H.L. Culbreath, Jr.; L.G. "Ted" Delavergne, Jr.; Jerry E. Fogarty; George B. Howell, III; Fred R. Martin, III; Mary Alsbrook Smith and Frances Thomas Toole. Film footage from Joseph V. Reineman describing the life of a pirate on Invasion Day will also be shown continuously.
Over the years, the original Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla has been joined by dozens of new krewes (social clubs), all of which contribute to the general merriment and community pride of the occasion.
In celebration of Black History Month, a public lecture will be presented on Ann Lowe on February 4, 2018 by Margaret Powell. “Dressing the Best: The Story of Ann Lowe, America’s First African American Fashion Designer,” will be at 1:00 pm in the Music Room of historic Plant Hall.