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Ringling Brothers Art Museum and Circus Memorabilia: Sarasota, Florida

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

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

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 Ca' 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.

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

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.

"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."

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.

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 .

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.

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

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.

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.

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!

Questions & Answers

Question: Are wheelchairs available at the Ringling Brothers Art Museum?

Answer: A limited number of wheelchairs are available on site. Visitors are encouraged to bring their own with them.

Question: How much is a ticket to visit the Ringling Museum of Art?

Answer: Every Monday, the Museum of Art is open to the public with free admission.

Normal admission prices include both the Museum of Art and the Circus Museum and as of this date (June 2018) here are the fees:

$25 for adults

$23 for seniors 65+

$5 for college students (some students in certain colleges pay nothing)

$5 Children from 6 to 17

Free for children 5 and under

$15 Active Military Members with !D

$10 Florida Teachers with ID

Free for members

Free for members with reciprocal museum memberships

Except for July, August and September here are the charges for Art After 5:

$15 All Adults

$5 Child 6 to 17.

Question: Do you have senior yearly passes for the Ringling Brother's art museum? We bring visitors there, and it gets expensive.

Answer: Senior annual passes are not listed as being available for purchase. However, every Monday, the Museum of Art is open to the public with free admission. So plan your visits on Mondays if at all possible to save money.

Question: My father was a trapeze artist with the Ringling circus for 8 years in the 1940s and1950s. If I come to the museum, will there possibly be photos of him?

Answer: I cannot answer that for sure but I would guess that if photos of your father are not on display, they probably have photos of him in their archives. It would certainly be something that you could explore.

© 2009 Peggy Woods

Comments are welcomed.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 14, 2013:

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.

Richard morris on March 13, 2013:

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 Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on October 14, 2012:

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.

Aurelio Locsin from Orange County, CA on October 13, 2012:

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 Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 21, 2012:

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.

Dianna Mendez on February 21, 2012:

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 Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on November 10, 2011:

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.

julie on November 10, 2011:

The art museum is open free of charge every monday.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on October 06, 2011:

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!

JOHN A STODDARD on October 06, 2011:

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 Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on September 08, 2010:

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.

rodhogan007 on September 08, 2010:

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

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 10, 2010:

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 from Sarasota Florida on July 10, 2010:

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

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 03, 2009:

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 on May 03, 2009:

Looks like an exceptional Place specially the statuse on top.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 02, 2009:

Hello gpetrou85, Thanks X 2!

gpetrou85 from greece on May 02, 2009:

very nice,good hub.

gpetrou85 from greece on May 02, 2009:

very nice,good hub.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 02, 2009:

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

kiran8 from Mangalore, India on May 02, 2009:

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

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 02, 2009:

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 Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 02, 2009:

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 from United States on May 02, 2009:

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 from United States on May 01, 2009:

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

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 01, 2009:

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 on May 01, 2009:

I've been there it is amazing.