Upon entering the Grand Hall, visitors marvel at the opulence of Henry Plant's Tampa Bay Hotel, known for good reason as "Plant's Palace." The Grand Hall, replete with rich furnishings, is representative of Hotel’s décor that was devoted to comfort and luxury.
Visitors experience the authentic atmosphere of the Grand Hall illuminated by 1891 Edison carbon filament lighting, walls awash with original paint colors and voluptuous Victorian furnishings original to the Hotel. The extravagance of the Gilded Age is reflected in the exquisite Boulle-style cabinets, Venetian and Florentine-style mirrors and massive Japanese vases that adorn the corridor.
A fine collection of statues greet visitors along their journey through the Museum. These pieces represent great historical figures such as the silvered bronze busts of Queen Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scots and a Parian bust of Queen Victoria, beloved literary characters such as a cast iron “Little Red Riding Hood” and white Italian Carrera marble “Sleeping Beauty”, Greek mythology’s “Naiad at the Bath” and other captivating figures. The original electrified blackamoors that once lit the Grand Staircase now grace the Grand Hall.
Flanking the Grand Hall, exotic keyhole-shaped doorways lead to vignettes that depict the various guest experiences or amenities at the Tampa Bay Hotel, the building and operation of the Hotel, insight into the Plant System empire and the role of Tampa during the Spanish-American War.