Couple follow dream in opening Plant City museum
PLANT CITY -
By their own description, Tim and Jeannette Shaw have no talent for creating art.
“I can’t draw a straight line,” Jeannette said with a laugh.
But they both have a love for art, and that passion led them to open downtown Plant City’s only privately owned art museum. The ribbon-cutting was two months ago on their venture, The Herd Museum of Fine Art & Collectibles.
“We’re trying to follow a dream. If we didn’t do it, we’d never know,” Tim said.
Jeannette, who works as a registered nurse at The Health Center of Plant City, said the museum grew out of their own art collection. She started collecting 10 years ago, and their 400 pieces became too numerous for their Plant City home.
“I didn’t have any more room for art on the walls, even though we have 14-foot ceilings. We had so much art that friends and family used to tease us about having a museum in our home,” she said.
She decided she wanted to open a museum in historic downtown, and settled on a storefront at 113 S. Palmer St. that was once the longtime studio of Plant City photographer Bill Friend.
On Feb. 1, the Shaws opened their museum with about 100 pieces of art and collectibles.
“I enjoy art so much that I thought everyone else would too. There’s nothing like this between Orlando and Tampa,” she said.
They settled on the name, “Herd,” because their family is so large that family members refer to their gatherings as “the herd,” Jeannette said.
Herd is the only business in downtown that bills itself as an art museum although the nonprofit East Hillsborough Historical Society has a museum of local history in the 1914 Plant City High School Community Center, and the nonprofit Plant City Photo Archives and History Center has displays of historic photos and documents.
Jeannette Shaw said friends and family urged them to follow their dream.
“We thought about it for like a year and a half. Everyone encouraged us so we decided to try it,” Shaw said.
The Shaws, who have been married 17 years, obtained most of their collection by attending auctions and visiting local antique shops. They also have an assortment of dolls on display owned by their daughter Mary Wright.
Their collection includes works by Morris Katz, who is Jeannette’s favorite artist, and others. Tim, who is retired from Publix, has his Star Wars memorabilia collection there too.
They charged admission when they first opened their doors but business was slow so they made it free. They now are making their money by selling some of their art and collectibles in a side room in the about 1,800 square foot gallery.
To promote their business, they set up a Facebook page and Tim Shaw has been going door to door downtown passing out fliers for the museum.
The Shaws are pleased that they pursued their venture.
“We are enjoying having a place where we can share our love of art with others,” Jeannette said.