Circus Tycoon John Ringling shared a love of art with his wife Mable and while traveling through Europe in search of new circus acts, they began to acquire pieces of artwork. Eventually, the collection became quite significant and John built a 21-gallery museum to house his treasure trove of paintings and art objects.
In 1931, two years after Mable’s passing John opened up the gallery to share it with the public and to honor his beloved wife.
Upon his death in 1936 John Ringling willed his property and art collection along with a 1.2 million dollar endowment to the people of Florida. He had only one stipulation and that was that the name of the property would never be changed.
In the years after his death, the museum’s endowment was managed poorly and the property went into decline. Some private donors came forward to help keep the Museum open, while a dedicated, but severely underfunded staff struggled to fulfill the Museum’s potential.
In the year 2000, after years of negotiation, the state finally passed on the governance of the property to Florida State University and as part of the agreement, the State of Florida promised to fund the renovation and repairs of the deteriorating buildings and a new beginning started to emerge.
New additions to the museum started to take shape and in 2007 The Ulla R and Arthur F Searing Wing opened and hosts rotating exhibitions, it is also in this wing that you will find Joseph’s Coat by renowned artist James Turrell, described as a meditative experience of light, sky, and color.
Additionally, in 2016 The Ting Tsung and Wei Fong Chao Center for Asian arts opened promoting the exploration of Asian arts, and in November of 2016 the Keith D. and Linda l. Monda Gallery for Contemporary art opened.
The Ringling Museum of Art is located at 5401 Bayshore Road in Sarasota, Florida
Museum Admission includes entry to the Museum of Art, Circus Museum, and Bayfront Gardens. $25 Adult – $23 Senior – Children 6-17 $5. Parking is Free
This Admission does not include entry to Ca’ d’Zan, the estate of John & Mable. Tours of the estate require a separate admission ticket.
Open Daily, 10:00 AM- 5:00 PM
Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, & New Year’s Day
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