Back in 1954, local Pensacola members of the American Association of University of Women transformed the area’s arts-and-culture fabric by establishing what became the Pensacola Museum of Art. These many decades later, the institution has only grown in scope and visitorship, and it remains a top cultural attraction of the Emerald Coast—and the only major art museum in Northwest Florida.
Housed in the historic Spanish Revival building that once served as Pensacola’s Old City Jail—quite the evolution, huh?—the Pensacola Museum of Art is a fixture of downtown that’s well appreciated both by local art enthusiasts and the many tourists that flock to this Panhandle beach hotspot.
Since 2016, the Pensacola Museum of Art has been part of the University of West Florida, managed by the University of West Florida Historic Trust and serving as a portal between campus and downtown.
Dedicated to feeding the cultural needs of greater Pensacola and fostering a dialogue between the university and the community at large, the museum boasts a fine permanent collection founded on modern and contemporary art of the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries. Notable works by Pablo Picasso, Louise Nevelson, Salvador Dali, Toulouse-Lautrec, Andy Warhol, and Miriam Shapiro are among the highlights.
That core collection—which also includes traditional African artwork—is accentuated by special and traveling exhibitions, several of which are usually featured at a time for runs of a few months. The overall effect is, invariably, a super eclectic mix of styles, media, and themes: food for mind and soul alike!
Community outreach and engagement are major parts of the University of West Florida Pensacola Museum of Art’s focus. The museum provides a busy calendar of art classes, workshops, and summer camps, plus lectures and a film series. There are also plenty of social events, including epicurean soirees serving as fantastic excuses to pair great art with great wine and food. (A killer combination, if you ask us.)
The museum also rents part of its space for special events, in case you’d like an especially refined and aesthetically stimulating backdrop for a wedding or birthday party.
The Pensacola Museum of Art is well worth a visit when sampling the sugar sand beaches, Blue Angels flyovers, world-class sportfishing, and the other varied attractions of the City of Five Flags. Even if you’re not a ravenous art obsessive, its cool corridors and galleries—especially welcome retreats on a hot summer afternoon—are likely to deliver something or other deeply absorbing and satisfying.
– Thanks to the national Museums for All program, those receiving SNAP benefits can show their EBT card to enjoy free admission to the Pensacola Museum of Art!