Bay County Historical Museum exhibit offers a photographic tour of history


PANAMA CITY – You can dive deep into the city’s history while exploring the Bay County Historical Museum’s latest exhibit.

The Bay County Historical Society hosted its new exhibit at the museum, which offers a historic photographic tour of Bay County. While some images date back to 1909, each photo represents a time period that captures Bay County’s history.

The museum, located at 133 Harrison Ave. in downtown Panama, recently extended its summer hours from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays; 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday and Friday; and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday.

The free exhibit will run throughout the fall and is open to the public.

Some photos in the new exhibit at the Bay County Historical Museum date back to the early stages of Harrison Avenue, while others include images from the Miracle Strip amusement park era.

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Despite the pursuit streetscape project which blocks the entrance to the front door, Glenda Walters, former president of the Historical Society, said she expects the museum to be able to open next week.

“We know the project will be beautiful when completed, but for now we remain patient and preparing for future exhibits,” Walters said. “In the meantime, we hope the community will look forward to seeing this exhibit when we reopen.”

According to Walters, Historical Society Vice President Kenny Redd created the exhibit using the Bay County Public Library’s online historical photo gallery. He started a collection of photos to reproduce on canvas-wrapped frames and kitchen magnets and included descriptions of well-known events. The images are now available to the museum for donations of $50 for canvas photos and $5 for magnets.

An exhibit offering a photographic tour of Bay County history is now on display at the Bay County Historical Museum.  One of the old black and white photos shows a scene from Ware's Wharf in St. Andrews.

Walters said each image tells its own story of how it is a significant factor in Bay County’s history.

“Some of the photos date back to the early stages of Harrison Avenue, while others include footage from the Miracle Strip amusement park era,” Walters said. “It’s time travel and it’s wonderful that people are preserving their family history and their collections.”

What else is at the Bay County History Museum?

In addition to the photographic tour, there is a lot to see and learn while visiting the museum. Bob Hurst, also vice president of the Historical Society, said the organization often rotates exhibits quarterly to feature additional artifacts from across Bay County.

“Our Historical Society mission is to preserve Bay County’s history in every way possible,” Hurst said. “Whether it’s a museum or documents, we encourage people to come and discover the history of our city.”

Other exhibits are the Massalina Family, Gideon vs. Wainwright, Panama City Beach, Turbenthine, and Barbershop.

Founded in 1936, the Historical Society opened the museum in 2014 to share artifacts, photographs and documents collected from the community. Exhibits related to Bay County’s past are featured throughout the year. While the public is welcome to enjoy the museum at no charge, donations are always accepted to help further the society’s mission.

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Patrick F. Williams