John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art

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John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art

Coordinates: 27°22′53″N 82°33′33″W / 27.38138°N 82.55914°W / 27.38138; -82.55914

The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art is the state art museum of Florida, located in Sarasota, Florida. It was established in 1927 as the legacy of Mable and John Ringling for the people of Florida. Florida State University assumed governance of the Museum in 2000.

Designated as the official state art museum for Florida, the institution offers twenty-one galleries of European paintings as well as Cypriot antiquities and Asian, American, and contemporary art. The museum's art collection currently consists of more than 10,000 objects that include a variety of paintings, sculpture, drawings, prints, photographs, and decorative arts from ancient through contemporary periods and from around the world. The most celebrated items in the museum are 16th, 17th, and 18th century European paintings, including a world-renowned collection of Peter Paul Rubens paintings. Other artists represented include; Marrioto di Cione, Cranach the Elder, Frans Hals, H. C. Van Vliet, Wright of Derby, Gainesborough, and Boudin.

In all, more than 150,000 square feet (14,000 m2) have been added to the campus, which includes the art museum, circus museum, and Ca' d'Zan, the Ringlings' mansion, which has been restored, along with the historic Asolo Theater. Entirely new are the Visitor Pavilion, the Education and Conservation Complex, the Tibbals Learning Center, and Miniature Circus and the Searing Wing, a 30,000-square-foot (2,800 m2) gallery for special exhibitions attached to the art museum.


A. Everett (Chick) Austin Jr., a member of the International Brotherhood of Magicians and, from 1927 to 1944, the innovative director of the Wadsworth Atheneum, was the Ringling Museum's first director.

Florida State University assumed governance of the Museum in 2000. In January 2007, a $76-million expansion and renovation of the Museum of Art was finished. A new Arthur F. and Ulla R. Searing Wing was added—the new wing being the final component of a five-year master plan that has transformed the museum. It is now the sixteenth largest in the United States.

Ringling Estate

Aside from the art museum, the estate also contains the Ringling's mansion, Ca' d'Zan, Mable Ringling's rose garden, the Ringling Museum of the American Circus, and the Asolo Theater.

Ca' d'Zan

Ca' d'Zan, (Venetian for "House of John"), is the waterfront residence built for Mable and John Ringling. The mansion was designed by architect Dwight James Baum with assistance from the Ringlings, built by Owen Burns, and was completed in 1926.

It is designed in Venetian Gothic style. Overlooking Sarasota Bay, the mansion became the center for cultural life in Sarasota for several years. The residence was restored in 2002 under the direction of Bill Puig.

Rose Garden

Mable Ringling’s rose garden was completed in 1913 while she and John were living in another house on the property. The rose garden is located near the original Mary Louise and Charles N. Thompson residence within the beautifully landscaped grounds overlooking Sarasota Bay. John and Mable are both buried near this garden.

Ringling Museum of the American Circus

The Ringling Museum of the American Circus, established in 1948, is the first museum of its kind to document the history of the circus. The museum has a colletion of handbills, posters and art prints, circus paper, business records, wardrobe, performing props, circus equipment, and parade wagons. The museum also contains the Howard Bros. Circus model, a ¾-inch-to-the-foot scale replica of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus from 1919–1938, called the "world's largest miniature circus"

"The Wisconsin"

The Circus Museum also houses a new exhibit, one of the Ringling personal train cars, The Wisconsin, currently on display while it is undergoing final restoration.