On March 21, 2020, an exciting new exhibit will open at the Henry Plant Museum. The Sportin’ Life
explores the importance and prevalence of sports and recreational activities at Gilded Age resort hotels. This exhibit will run through December 23, 2020.
Victorian sports and games are brought to life through historical photographs, promotional materials, vintage clothing, and early sporting equipment. Rarely seen Tampa Bay Hotel photographs showcase both participants and spectators in diverse activities such as tennis, racing, hunting, fishing, boating, golf, croquet and more. Visitors can admire early items produced by sports equipment giants Rawlings (founded in 1887) and Spalding (founded in 1876), including late 1800s baseball gloves and shin guards. A baseball signed by George Herman “Babe” Ruth, Jr. will delight all sports fans. These and many more artifacts come from a variety of institutions including the Museum of Florida History, the St. Petersburg Museum of History, private collectors, and the Plant Museum.
The Victorian period was a time of innovation and change, trends illuminated in The Sportin’ Life
. Vintage fashions demonstrate how gender roles evolved, and how sports played a role in new freedoms and activities for women. New inventions, such as the safety bicycle, replaced older high wheel models. Even innovative games and sports, like golf and baseball, gained popularity at grand resorts and among the wealthy and elite. Visitors to this exhibit will leave with a new understanding and appreciation for Victorian physical fitness and athletic competition.
The Sportin’ Life
runs from March 21 through December 23. Accompanying the exhibit will be a variety of programs and events throughout the year. The public is invited to attend a special talk on March 20th at 7 pm by Dave Oberg, Executive Director of Elmhurst History Museum in Elmhurst, Illinois. He has extensive knowledge on turn-of-the-century sports in America and a particular passion for 19th century baseball.
Graciously underwritten by: