tampabay.com

Antiques collector might fill museum

By BARBARA BEHRENDT
Published May 7, 2007


BROOKSVILLE - For lifelong antiques enthusiast Harcourt Syms, the museum would be a legacy. For Brooksville, it would be a magnet.

The Brooksville City Council tonight will consider supporting the museum concept, a vote that could bring Syms' longtime dream a step closer to reality.

Syms is the chief executive officer of the Florida Fine Art Museum Corp. The Tarpon Springs resident has looked for an ideal location for a museum to house his extensive personal collection of antiques.

Lately, he has been talking to Brooksville's redevelopment coordinator Brian Brijbag about how his plan would fit with the vision Brooksville's leaders have for the city's redevelopment.

The site Syms is considering purchasing for his museum is what longtime residents know as the old Brooksville Twin movie theater, used most recently as a church. It is on Candlelight Boulevard just off Broad Street.

Syms has a large inventory of antiques with a special emphasis on Tudor items. He also has art glass and fine art items.

"His desire is to provide this display for public enjoyment and public education, " Brijbag said. "He is very big on the museum being an educational tool."

The proposal already has support from the Hernando County Fine Arts Council, said Brijbag, who is a member of the council.

Such support from the arts council and the city will be key for Syms in any efforts to secure grants to operate the museum.

Syms is not asking the city for money, rather basic support for the project plus a promise that the city would help the project organizers get through the city's development process.

Part of that is for the council to declare that the city has no interest in the property, which is not city-owned.

For Brijbag, who has been actively seeking people who can provide attractive artistic and cultural draws to the city, Syms' museum plan is a dream.

"It's going to be a good fit with other things we're trying to do, " he said.

"It's a good piece of the puzzle."

Barbara Behrendt can be reached at behrendt@sptimes.com or 352 754-6117.