Sunday, January 27, 2013

John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota, Florida

We finally went and did something touristy today – we visited the well-known Ringling Museum of Art.  The Museum of Art is actually a compound of many components. Yes, there is a museum with Renaissance paintings collected by John & Mable Ringling, but also donated art for viewing.  Not our taste, but we did enjoy the special exhibit of 20th century photography presented until February 3rd.

After touring the Museum of Art itself, we strolled though the rose garden to Ca’ d’Zan Mansion, the home of John & Mable Ringling, constructed in the 1920’s at a cost of $1.5 million.  Based very much on Italian architecture, the home was quite ornate. (This also explains the plethora of art from the Renaissance era.) A bit of history ~ Mable died first after only living in the home for a couple of years.  John died about six years later, cash poor and without any children, thus the estate and all of the Ringling’s belongings were donated to the state of Florida.  We took the docent tour of the first two floors, and it was interesting; we always enjoy learning about the people and their lives in the homes we tour.
Also on the grounds is the Circus Museum with a few pieces of the circus when John was involved, such as wagons, along with the Wisconsin, the 1905 private Rail car of John & Mable Ringling. Also shown, and quite interesting, was the Howard Brothers Circus Model – this model is a replica of the Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus from 1919-1938. 
As one walks around the miniature circus, the music changed to match that of what you are seeing. 

We walked around the grounds quite a bit, but one can take the tram (golf cart, really) if one wants. The admission to the Museum of Art was $25 per person, with an additional $5 per person for the docent tour of Ca’ d’Zan. Was it worth $60 for us? Honestly, no. We liked it, but not that much. However, we went for free, as we were given passes through Florida Tourism who provided free tickets for front-line hospitality staff (i.e. us) so we can serve our guests better. 

The Museum is free every Monday, but admission is required for Ca’ d’Zan and the Circus Museums. There are two places to eat on the grounds, but we weren’t hungry, so no review on those. :-)
Easy and affordable - no matter where you are! 

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