The Ringling is a full-day experience that’s not to be missed when visiting Sarasota. It’s many-moving parts offer something for every age and interest.
The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art is a 66-acre museum complex featuring the Museum of Art, Circus Museum, Ca’ d’Zan mansion, Historic Asolo Theater, Art Library, and Bayfront Gardens. The Ringling is the State Art Museum of Florida, under the stewardship of Florida State University.
CA’ D’ZAN The Ringling’s home is a palatial mansion that captures the splendor and romance of Italy. Its design reflects the Venetian Gothic style of the palazzos that ring the Venice canals. The building is a pink, Renaissance-style palace with 21 galleries enclosing a courtyard graced with copies of iconic sculptures.
CIRCUS MUSEUM The museum houses performers’ wardrobes, performing props, beautifully carved parade wagons, glittering costumes, sturdy utility wagons, tent poles, massive bail rings that suspended the tent canvas and the cannon that shot fearless performers across the big top. There is also an incredible wealth of 19th and early 20th century posters and props.
Don’t miss The Life and Times of John and Mable Ringling, a film narrated by Hal Holbrook featuring the history of Ringling Bros. circus, the building of the Ca’ d’Zan and the Museum of Art, as well as John’s influence in the development of Sarasota.
The Ringling Archives In the Circus Museum’s Tibbals Learning Center discover the archived Ringling Collection, John Ringling’s Papers and the Circus Collection; manuscripts, posters, special exhibitions and its centerpiece – the 3,800 square foot Howard Bros. Circus Model, a 44,000-piece re-creation of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® Circus combined shows from 1919-1938.
MUSEUM OF ART From the Rubens Galleries to the Turrell Skyspace, view the permanent collection’s treasures, the fascinating exhibitions from around the world and the classical sculptures that fill the grand courtyard. Upon his death in 1936, Ringling bequeathed the Museum to the people of Florida.
Johnson-Blalock Education Center houses the extensive Art Library and provides classroom space for adult and childrens programming that enriches and enlivens interest in art. The Art library is one of the largest and most comprehensive art research libraries in the southeastern United States. While the collection does not circulate, the Library is open to the public for browsing.
BAYFRONT GARDENS Stroll among the majestic Banyan trees in this treasured garden filled with interesting botanical flora and fauna. Explore Mable’s Rose Garden, Dwarf Garden, Secret Garden and Millennium Tree Trail.
The legacy of John and Mable Ringling is a monument to art, architecture, and circus in an environment that inspires, educates, and entertains.
Visit: 5401 Bay Shore Road; Sarasota, FL 34243; 941-359-5700; www.ringling.org