We didn’t know much about the Ringling Museum of Art before we visited, but we’re sure glad we stopped by when we were in Sarasota. We were blown away by this museum. There is lots to see and can be fun for all ages with the beautiful gardens, circus museum, art museum, and the Ca’ d’Zan (John and Mable Ringling's winter home).
The entrance fee to the museum is $25 and an extra $10 if you want to tour the Ca’ d’Zan. We opted out of touring the house since we really just wanted to see the outside of the house overlooking the bay.
The circus museum was by far our favorite stop. It starts out with some old circus posters which were fun and interesting. They had a formula of using hyperboles and alliterations and always used exciting imagery and bombastic language.
Then you enter an area where you see a train model where all the circus employees and animals ride on. The train model was impressive enough, but then the model goes on to the actual setup and the event and the the details were incredible! We were so amazed by this huge model that goes on forever. The pictures don’t do it justice, so you definitely need to see this for yourself.
After you exit the circus model, you go upstairs to look at some circus costumes, clown displays, and the history of how the circus all started.
Then you go back downstairs and enter another part of the circus museum where there are fun interactive exhibits. The one we had the most fun on was the Walk the Wire test to see how well you can balance on the narrow beam. Once you clear, you hit a button and a crowd cheers for you. So fun!
Once we were done with the circus museum, we made our way to the Ringling mansion. The walk is about half a mile, but there are also golf cart shuttles going around to give you a ride. We decided to ride on the cart so we could save some time and so we didn’t have to walk in the hot Florida heat.
As you're walking or being driven to the mansion, you'll pass through the beautiful Bayfront Gardens with plenty of greenery, sculpted gardens, palm trees and banyan trees. The 66-acre site is truly gorgeous and impressive.
The Ringling mansion is beautiful and very unique. We loved that it overlooked the bay and spent some time enjoying the views. The area really reminded us of the Getty Villa in Malibu. Even the layout of the gardens were very similar.
Next, we took the shuttle to the art museum, which houses hundreds of Ringling’s art collection pieces. The Ringlings had been traveling in Europe for years and fell in love with Baroque art. They started collecting pieces from Velazquez, El Greco, Van Dyke, Veronese, Tiepolo, Gainsborough and Rubens.
We also checked out the museum’s newest addition of the Asian gallery. A very small museum, but some interesting pieces from China, Japan and Korea.
As we were looking at the last piece of art on the wall, a staff member came to tell us the museum was closing and we couldn’t believe it. There was just so much to do and see at this museum that we closed the place down.
This museum is definitely one of our favorites and we’d love to go again to take our friends. What’s your favorite museum? Let us know in the comments below.
RINGLING MUSEUM OF ART
ADDRESS: 5401 Bay Shore Rd, Sarasota, FL 34243
HOURS: Open daily 10:00am - 5:00pm, Thursdays until 8:00pm
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