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The circus museum is the most interesting exhibit here. There are two different buildings, both have historical displays.
Photo Credit: guyonthego

John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art

5401 Bay Shore Road Sarasota, Florida 34243
Open 10am–5pm, and on Thursdays until 8pm
941-359-5700 1 day
January 2013 All year
$10-29 Sarasota Florida
Website Educational History Museums
First review
John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art is a 66 acre facility that includes an art museum, circus museum, historic mansion, historic theater, flower gardens and two restaurants. The museum is best known for a large collection of European paintings and sculptures. However, the circus artifacts and interactive displays are quite interesting and will have wider appeal. In addition to the permanent collections, the museum has rotating exhibits and special events. Given the variety of exhibits and activities, you should plan on spending at least a day here.

John Ringling (1866-1936) experienced great success and great misfortune in life. He and 4 of his brothers developed a simple travelling circus act that became the most successful circus ever. John outlived the others and by the 1920s had become fantastically wealthy from circus operations and other businesses. However, in the wake of the Great Depression and financial reversals, much of his wealth was lost. He was able to keep his mansion and art collection though and willed both to the state of Florida when he died.

The circus exhibits were varied and informative. The most impressive one was a huge model circus of the Ringling Circus in its heyday. There also were a number of circus type games and displays that kids will enjoy. Also interesting was the luxury railcar that Ringling used as his office and home on the road. The art museum will appeal to fans of Renaissance art and more recent European paintings and sculpture. There were so many art works here that you can get overloaded, so it’s best to take a docent tour first to get a highlight view and then go back to look at specific pieces. The two gardens were less notable, but are worth a visit if you enjoy flowers. A separate review covers the historic mansion. The Ringling Museum is the most interesting attraction in Sarasota and one of the best in the entire state. It has enough content and diversity to appeal to many tastes, and a visit is recommended.
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