The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, also known as The Ringling Museum, is one of the main attractions in Sarasota, Florida. In case the word “Ringling” rings a bell, that’s right, it’s the same famous Ringling Brothers who had made a name for themselves with their massive circus shows that travels across the country back in the good old days.
Little did people know that in addition to the circus shows, John Ringling and Mable Ringling were also interested in the collection of arts, photographs, sculptures, paintings and other decorative work from around the world. It is here in Sarasota, Florida that both John and Mable used this big piece of land to create a massive museum to store and display these large variety of creative work. Their visions were to make this Ringling Museum one of the biggest art museum in the country.
The Circus Museum
A lot has changed over time at the Ringling Museum, this piece of land has so much to see and explore. There is the entrance of The Ringling that still has the gate house that once was occupied by the gate keeper. The tour guide informed us that back then, the cars will go through the gate and traveled through the rocky muddy road and into the various parts of the land.
But now in the modern era, Inside the main building, there is the ticket station, a souvenir store and a Muse Restaurant. Then, as you walked out to the outdoor, there are so many buildings to explore. One of them is the Circus Museum, which stores a number of Circus related items that were once used by the Ringling Brothers. There is also a huge mural and you can imagine how massive this circus show back in the days. As you walked through further into the building, there is a massive (and I mean MASSIVE) display of the miniature version of the entire Ringling Circus. I personally love miniature displays a lot so I found this section super fascinating. I was told that there is only one person who oversees and construct these miniature pieces of the entire circus display. This miniature took many many years to construct and it’s still being assembled annually to expand and showcase the circus. Some parts of the miniature display also have moveable parts to make it even more entertaining to watch. In particular, inside the tent, some of the performers on ropes are moving in circles, giving us a sense of how the circus shows were performed back then. The detail and the dedication to put this whole miniature together is incredible!
Museum of Art
In this building of the Museum of Art, you will find a lot of large paintings, sculptures, photographs, prints and many decorative art works from all around the world. It’s amazing that both John and Mable had such a big vision of the art collection back in the 1920s.
The Ca’ d’Zan is the home of John and Mable Ringling. It’s a nice walking distance away from the other parts of the Museum for more privacy and also for its good view of the city. As you walk through the path and pass the palm trees, you will realize that this Ca’ d’Zan is facing the Sarasota Bay, overlooking the beautiful ocean water. The building itself is strongly inspired by the Venetian Gothic Style. Inside the house, it still preserved the colour window screens, the furniture, the cigar and whiskey room, the appliances inside the kitchen, it’s definitely quite interesting.
MoVernie Recommendations – While Visiting The Ringling Museum
- Check out the business hours of The Ringling Museum – https://www.ringling.org/tickets
- There is always special events/performances each month, so check out the link to see what’s going on during the time of your visit, perhaps you may want to check out the special shows – https://www.ringling.org/events/type/events
- Parking is free when visiting The Ringling Museum and the parking lot is available close to the entrance of the museum. Free parking definitely saves you a lot – https://www.ringling.org/hours-directions-and-parking
- The Ringling Museum is definitely a huge place, so there will be lots of walking, but you can walk at your own pace. So, this is somewhere you have to consider. This is also wheel chair accessible.
- I found this map (see link) from the Ringling Museum website super helpful as it gives you a good orientation of where all the buildings are. I highly recommend that you download this map and plan ahead where you want to navigate ahead of your visit – https://www.ringling.org/ringling-estate-map
- Depending on how much time you want to spend here, I would say, give yourself a minimum of 2 to 3 hours here, coz there are so much to see. Me personally, to fully enjoy and appreciate every piece of the miniature display of the Ringling Circus, I would dedicate at least a good 40 minutes of my time there. But again, it all depends on each individual. But I do strongly feel this is a place I would spend at least half a day to really get to see everything, it’s not really a place for you to come and take a peek and leave type of spot.
- After exploring all the museums, the outdoor parks and gardens, I highly recommend you to take a coffee break or have a nice relaxing lunch at the Muse Restaurant, located just right inside the Ringling Museum. It’s a perfect way to relax, chill, refuel with energy. The food menu has a good list of food items selections at an affordable price.
- And before you leave, be sure to check out the Ringling Museum shop.
Social Media Photogenic Spots:
There are tons of social media worthy spots for you to photoshoot.
- The main entrance of the Ringling Museum is a worthwhile spot to begin your social media photos.
- The humongous mural inside the Circus Museum is worthwhile.
- The outside entrance of the Ca’ d’Zan.
- The colour window screens inside the Ca’ d’Zan.
- The patio area behind the Ca’ d’Zan building, facing the Sarasota Bay.
- Most of all, I really like the flower gardens and the fountains at the Ringling court yard, I think this is the best spot for a photoshoot.
- If you love floor tiles and patterns, you will be super excited at The Ringling. All the buildings around here have unique floor patterns for you to snap photos. In particular, there are quite a number of spots around the Ca’ d’Zan building.
- The spiral staircase inside the Muse restaurant is gorgeous spot to take a photo.
The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art (The Ringling Museum)
Address: 5401 Bay Shore Rd, Sarasota, FL 34243, USA