Ya La’Ford to create public art for history museum expansion

When the St. Petersburg Museum of History’s 10,000-square-foot expansion debuts in the fall of 2022, the facility itself will be 100 years old.

And the new construction will feature a work of contemporary art as unique and dazzling as the floating Echelman sculpture at the St. Pete Pier next door.

Artist Ya La’Ford has been commissioned to create a wrap-around aluminum sculpture for the museum expansion. An overlay of abstract geometric patterns cut into aluminum, “Intersections,” La’Ford explained at an announcement ceremony Tuesday morning, was based on an 1891 map of Florida, depicting the roads and railroad lines that led to St. Petersburg.

Rendering, nighttime view.

“Ya understood the importance of our state’s history to the American narrative,” said museum director Rui Farias, “and was ready to create a piece that represents that importance. History matters, because the context of the past allows us to thoughtfully address the challenges of our present day. Thanks to Ya La’Ford, the exterior of the St. Petersburg Museum of History will help do that.”

La’Ford explained that an app will be created and linked to the sculpture, so that those interested in history can learn more.

“Using the power of a line, the geometric design of the building is a bridge between the past, present and future,” she said. “It is in many ways also a physical record and representation of intersecting lines formed through Florida’s transportation system … just like a map. Just like each of us, these roads will change and evolve … as Floridians, and as a connected community”

The sculpture will also be illuminated after dark, with changeable lights and patterns for different days and events. “It will be a beacon of hope for any time that we’re in,” said La’Ford.

Farias said the $8 million extension will house an interactive, state-of-the-art exhibit called Explore Florida!, an expansive rooftop terrace and the Visit St. Pete/Clearwater Welcome Center and gift shop.

Groundbreaking will take place next February, on the museum’s 100th anniversary. Construction is expected to complete in approximately 10 months.

At Tuesday’s ceremony: St. Petersburg Museum of History board chair Katie Ramsberger, left, Deputy Mayor Kanika Tomalin, artist Ya La’Ford, Mayor Rick Kriseman, museum director Rui Farias. Photo by Bill DeYoung.

Bill DeYoung

Catalyst Senior Writer and Editor Bill DeYoung was a St. Petersburg Times correspondent at the age of 17. He went on to a 30-year career at newspapers in Florida and Georgia. He is the author of "Skyway: The True Story of Tampa Bay's Signature Bridge and the Man Who Brought it Down," "Phil Gernhard Record Man," "I Need to Know: The Lost Music Interviews," "Vintage St. Pete: The Golden Age of Tourism - and More" and "Vintage St. Pete Volume II: Legends, Locations, Lifestyles."

View Comments

  • Such very exciting news for the St Pete MOH!! Ya will do us proud and I cannot wait to see the finished product and enjoy the 100th anniversary festivities!

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