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John Ringling Brothers Art Museum and Vintage Circus Memorabilia, Sarasota, Florida

Updated on September 1, 2017
Peggy W profile image

The southern states have a charm all their own. From beaches to deserts there is a wide array of landscapes to please almost anyone!

Ringling Brothers Art Museum in Sarasota, Florida

Partial view of interior courtyard of the Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota, Florida
Partial view of interior courtyard of the Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota, Florida | Source

One of Sarasota's Treasures

Sarasota, Florida and the surrounding area is home to some wonderful sights and places of interest. One treasure is the Ringling Museum of Art which was opened to the public on March 30, 1930. The Ringling Brothers who created a circus empire also developed great wealth and now visitors to Sarasota can enjoy some of what was bequeathed to the public by John and Mable Ringling.

Once when visiting my aunt and uncle who reside part of the year in Florida, my mother and I were treated to a day of sightseeing in Sarasota. Included in this one day visit were the grounds of John and Mable Ringling's winter home which they called C`a d'Zan .

These extensive and beautifully landscaped 66 acre grounds border Sarasota Bay and include the Museum of Art and the Circus Museum in addition to their palace-like home.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
An aerial View of The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art Courtyard in Sarasota, Florida. This is the State Art Museum of Florida.Ringling Museum of Art Courtyard
An aerial View of The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art Courtyard in Sarasota, Florida. This is the State Art Museum of Florida.
An aerial View of The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art Courtyard in Sarasota, Florida. This is the State Art Museum of Florida. | Source
Ringling Museum of Art Courtyard
Ringling Museum of Art Courtyard | Source

The physical address is the following: 5401 Bay Shore Road, Sarasota, Florida 34243. The phone number is 941-359-5700.

Location of the Ringling Art Museum

A markerJohn & Mable Ringling Art Museum -
5401 Bay Shore Rd, Sarasota, FL 34243, USA
get directions

Collecting Art

World renowned art was collected by the Ringling's over a long period of time.

Old master paintings representing artist's creations from around the world and going back centuries are combined with tapestries, sculptures, furniture and other items. Modern art is not neglected in this vast and eclectic collection in which items are continually being added.

Sculptures at the Ringling Museum

"Fountain of the Tortoises in the Courtyard at The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art is a modern copy of a sixteenth-century fountain designed by Italian Giacomo Della Porta, with bronze figures done by Italian sculptor Taddeo Landini."
"Fountain of the Tortoises in the Courtyard at The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art is a modern copy of a sixteenth-century fountain designed by Italian Giacomo Della Porta, with bronze figures done by Italian sculptor Taddeo Landini." | Source

John and Mable Ringling accumulated this art collection and commissioned the building of the museum with the intent of donating it as their legacy to the people of Florida.

Mable Ringling died prior to the museum being completed. When John Ringling died in 1936 he bequeathed this entire estate including their winter home, the grounds and the museum with all the furnishings and art to the State of Florida.

Courtyard of The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art. Sarasota, Florida.
Courtyard of The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art. Sarasota, Florida. | Source

Circus Artifacts and Memorabilia

After the State of Florida assumed responsibility for the property, it was thought that it would be appropriate to include a museum showcasing circus artifacts and memorabilia since that is what helped to create the vast wealth that was enjoyed by the Ringling's.

They also added a nineteenth-century Italian theater.

Contributions as well as purchases have amassed an assemblage of things like circus posters, drawings, prints, photographs, costumes, props and some rare and beautifully carved circus wagons among other artifacts for the circus museum .

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The bandwagon carried the circus band in the parade that preceded the performance, when the circus came to town. The wagon is an exhibit in the Circus Museum, part of the Ringling Museum in Sarasota, Florida.Ringling Brothers Lion Tableau Wagon
The bandwagon carried the circus band in the parade that preceded the performance, when the circus came to town. The wagon is an exhibit in the Circus Museum, part of the Ringling Museum in Sarasota, Florida.
The bandwagon carried the circus band in the parade that preceded the performance, when the circus came to town. The wagon is an exhibit in the Circus Museum, part of the Ringling Museum in Sarasota, Florida. | Source
Ringling Brothers Lion Tableau Wagon
Ringling Brothers Lion Tableau Wagon | Source
The Greatest Show on Earth: The History of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus
The Greatest Show on Earth: The History of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus

I used to go to small carnivals when I was a child. Many of the entertainers probably longed to get hired by larger circuses like the Ringling Brothers who were certainly well known and made such entertainment fun for everyone.

 

John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art

The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art is a massive U-shaped building and it is divided into 21 rooms showing the collections of grouped art appropriate to each different era of artistic expression.

Examples include Sixteenth-Century Italian, Seventeenth-Century French and so forth. The West Galleries located at one end of the U-shaped building contains modern art and also shows special exhibitions. At the other end is the Asolo Theatre which is opened for limited engagements.

The courtyard in the center has a beautiful sculpture garden.

Statuary at the Ringling Museum

The Fountain of Oceanus in the Courtyard of The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art is a modern copy of a sixteenth-century fountain by the italian Giovanni da Bologna. The original is in Boboli Gardens, Florence, Italy. Back detail. Sarasota, Flor
The Fountain of Oceanus in the Courtyard of The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art is a modern copy of a sixteenth-century fountain by the italian Giovanni da Bologna. The original is in Boboli Gardens, Florence, Italy. Back detail. Sarasota, Flor | Source

Wear good comfortable walking shoes and be prepared to spend a good allotment of time in the Ringling Museum if you wish to enjoy the legacy of art left behind by John and Mable Ringling.

You will enjoy the work of famous artists like Peter Paul Rubens, Velasquez and others to numerous to mention.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The Flight of Lot and His Family from Sodom between 1613 and 1615 Medium 	oil on canvas, 86¾ x 96 in. (220.3 x 243.8 cm) at the John and Mable Ringling Museum of ArtThe Return of the Herd by Émile van Marcke, 19th Century, 74½ x 106 in. (189.2 x 269.2 cm), oil on canvas, Ringling MuseumThe Meeting of Abraham and Melchizedek, Circa 1625 in the Rubens Gallery inside the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota
The Flight of Lot and His Family from Sodom between 1613 and 1615 Medium 	oil on canvas, 86¾ x 96 in. (220.3 x 243.8 cm) at the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art
The Flight of Lot and His Family from Sodom between 1613 and 1615 Medium oil on canvas, 86¾ x 96 in. (220.3 x 243.8 cm) at the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art | Source
The Return of the Herd by Émile van Marcke, 19th Century, 74½ x 106 in. (189.2 x 269.2 cm), oil on canvas, Ringling Museum
The Return of the Herd by Émile van Marcke, 19th Century, 74½ x 106 in. (189.2 x 269.2 cm), oil on canvas, Ringling Museum | Source
The Meeting of Abraham and Melchizedek, Circa 1625 in the Rubens Gallery inside the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota
The Meeting of Abraham and Melchizedek, Circa 1625 in the Rubens Gallery inside the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota | Source

If you like the memory of grand circuses such as ones that were put on by the Ringling Brother's Circus, be sure and save some time to see the artifacts in that building on the Ringling estate.

Children of all ages will enjoy seeing these colorful and amusing remnants of a past era in entertainment.

Great video showing more of the art inside the museum! Photos change every few seconds.

If you enjoy art and are ever near Sarasota, Florida, be sure and take the time to see this exquisitely designed and beautiful John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art.

The legacy of this impressive and rich art collection is one left to not only the State of Florida, but it is one that can be enjoyed by all of us fortunate enough to be in the vicinity. The grounds are equally impressive. And be sure and stop by the Circus Museum as well. It is a treat for people of all ages!

Exterior views of the Ringling Art Museum

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This bronze reproduction of a sculpture of a Roman chariot is a feature of the courtyard, inside the main buildings of the John and Mable Ringling Museum in Sarasota, Florida.Ringling Museum Gardens
This bronze reproduction of a sculpture of a Roman chariot is a feature of the courtyard, inside the main buildings of the John and Mable Ringling Museum in Sarasota, Florida.
This bronze reproduction of a sculpture of a Roman chariot is a feature of the courtyard, inside the main buildings of the John and Mable Ringling Museum in Sarasota, Florida. | Source
Ringling Museum Gardens
Ringling Museum Gardens | Source

Would you have a desire to visit the Ringling Art Museum?

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© 2009 Peggy Woods

Comments are welcomed.

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    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hello Richard Morris,

      I do not collect circus memorabilia and have merely showcased some of the vast collection that John and Mable Ringling amassed and which is now displayed, owned and operated by the State of Florida in this hub.

      Have you had your collection appraised so that you know the value? You might check to see if people are selling such things on Ebay or Amazon. You might be able to find some dealers that way who are also willing to purchase your collection. Hope this helps!

      If anyone has other ideas, please leave a message in the comment section.

    • profile image

      Richard morris 4 years ago

      I have a very large circus collectables. I have collection, set of nine,tiger facts,horse facts,elephant facts. these sections hook together. I also have a banner of romeo & julitte about 50 ft.in lenght. Wondering if you would be intrested .

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi alocsin,

      The Ringling Art Museum complex in Sarasota contained all types of art. I honestly don't remember if they had the circus pipe organs but I wouldn't doubt that they probably did. It has been many years since I visited there. All I know is that it is definitely worth visiting as is the Ringling mansion. Thanks for your comment and votes.

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 4 years ago from Orange County, CA

      From its appearance, you'd think this museum was only devoted to Old Masters art. It's quite a surprise to know that it contains circus memorabilia as well. I'm wondering if they have any of those traveling circus pipe organs. Voting this Up and Interesting.

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hello teaches12345,

      Yes...for anyone wishing to see some great art collected and displayed from around the world...the John and Mable Ringling Art Museum in Sarasota, Florida is a wonderful place to visit. Thanks for your visit and comment.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      I am going to have to put this on my list of places to visit in Florida. I didn't realize it would be so artistic. Thank you for sharing!

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Julie,

      Thanks for adding that bit of information. Am certain that visitors to the Ringling Brothers Art Museum will be happy to know about the free admission on Mondays.

    • profile image

      julie 5 years ago

      The art museum is open free of charge every monday.

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hello John A. Stoddard,

      If I were you, I would contact the Ringling Brothers Art Museum directly and see if they can help you. Undoubtedly they have records. If they do not have the photos you do of your great great aunt performing there, they would probably love to have it if you are willing to share it with them. Good luck!

    • profile image

      JOHN A STODDARD 5 years ago

      WHERE CAN I FIND A LIST OF THE PERFORMERS. MY GREAT GREAT AUNG MAGGI LONG PERFORMED THERE AND I HAVE PICTURES

      OF HER AND HUSBAND.

      ANY INFO WOULD BE OF HELP,

      THANK YOU

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 7 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hello rodhogan007,

      I would certainly agree with you that the Ringling Brothers Art Museum in Sarasota, Florida is a great travel destination place in which to spend some time. Thanks for the comment.

    • profile image

      rodhogan007 7 years ago

      I've been here in one of my travels in timeshare exit solutions related transactions. It is really a nice place.

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 7 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hello sarasota-florida,

      Nice meeting you here! Believe me, if we lived in Sarasota, we would visit the John and Mable Ringling Art Museum often. What a terrific place as is their home. Thanks for the comment.

    • sarasota-florida profile image

      sarasota-florida 7 years ago from Sarasota Florida

      Great page Peggy! I'm new to hubpages and live in Sarasota. Love visiting the Ringling Museaum.

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 8 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi shamelabboush, Yes, the statuary is exceptional. As with most museums containing art, they do not allow tourists to take photos inside. But if you wish to see some of what graces the interior, take a look at the videos and some of the links. Inside and outside, this place is a wonderful area in which to spend time. Thanks for commenting.

    • shamelabboush profile image

      shamelabboush 8 years ago

      Looks like an exceptional Place specially the statuse on top.

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 8 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hello gpetrou85, Thanks X 2!

    • gpetrou85 profile image

      gpetrou85 8 years ago from greece

      very nice,good hub.

    • gpetrou85 profile image

      gpetrou85 8 years ago from greece

      very nice,good hub.

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 8 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hello kiran8, You are one of my most faithful readers! Thanks for commenting.

    • kiran8 profile image

      kiran8 8 years ago from Mangalore, India

      Hi peggy, fabulous hib and interesting details, thanks a lot :)

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 8 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Jerilee, Great idea to share this with your granddaughter! Just check first to make sure that it is open (due to the possible budget cutting). Hopefully they will never have to shut their doors...even temporarily due to the economy. Thanks for commenting.

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 8 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Tom, It surely is unique. Few art museums are that beautiful on the outside as well as what they contain in the interiors. Thanks for your comment.

    • Jerilee Wei profile image

      Jerilee Wei 8 years ago from United States

      Thanks for writing this hub! I had completely forgotten about this place and will add it to my list of day trips this summer for us and our granddaughter as it's less than an hour away. I haven't been there since the 1980s.

    • Tom Rubenoff profile image

      Tom Rubenoff 8 years ago from United States

      This place is quite unique. Thanks so much for sharing!

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 8 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Pete,

      Good thing you took advantage when your brother lived in that area. Hopefully they will keep the doors opened for all those who have yet to enjoy it. Thanks for commenting.

    • Pete Maida profile image

      Pete Maida 8 years ago

      I've been there it is amazing.