The Ringling Museum of Art Features the Masters of Renaissance Period Art and Beyond

Stepping onto the grounds of the stately John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota, Florida you get no clue, other than the museum’s huge and somewhat deceiving facade, that you are about to enter into a really magnificent setting.

The museum building is Renaissance style architecture but, to the untrained eye, simply looks like a long, plain, narrow “museum type building” from your walk along the beautifully manicured grounds leading up to the front entrance.

But, there’s more to this setting than meets the eye; much more, as you are about to learn.

And it will be an informative little journey for you through the Ringling Museum of Art.

The entry way to the Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota, FL

Here's a little background and history for you: John and Mable Ringling first bought land in Sarasota in 1911, built a winter home, the Ca’D’Zan, and in 1927 made Sarasota home to the Winter Quarters of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus.

John Ringling began construction of the Ringling Art Museum, also in 1927, to house and share with the public his large collection of European Art that he acquired in the late 1920s. It would open in 1931. He died in 1936.

The Ringling Art Museum

Once inside the entryway lobby of the Ringling Museum of Art, you’ll find that the front facade of the building gives way to two more wings, one to your left and one to your right plus right in front of you in the center is a large, splendid courtyard between the two wings, waiting for your closer inspection and enjoyment.

The beautiful courtyard inside the grounds of the Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota, Florida

The central courtyard is filled with walkways, park benches, statuary, gardens, and other works of art along with a life size replica of the Michelangelo statue of David in bronze. It’s all quite impressive and beautiful.

As you move to the right and into the north wing of the Ringling Museum of Art you will come into the first gallery which features masterpieces by Peter Paul Rubens (1577 - 1640), a German-born Flemish Baroque painter, including “The Triumph of the Eucharist” series.

Works of Ruben at the Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota, Florida

There are benches on which to sit and contemplate and enjoy these classic works of art. No need to be in a rush.

You will also find works by Veronese, Velazquez and Gainsborough along with Rembrandt, just to recall a few.

Renaissance Art Collection at the Ringling Art Muesum in Sarsota, FL

The Ringling Museum of Art’s vast collection also displays art from the Late Gothic and Renaissance period in Northern Europe from 1350 – 1550, French artists and Rome and Northern Artists in Rome, 1600-1700 as well as Art in Italy, 1350 - 1550.

One gallery features Art for the Home in Renaissance Italy, 1400-1550 and features a 1500’s Lettuccio, which is a day bed from that period with carved, inlaid and gilded woods.

Renaissance Art Collection era Lettuccio at the Ringling Art Museum in Sarasota, FL

You’ll find galleries featuring Dutch Realism and Representation, 1600-1700, and works by Rembrandt including his "Portrait of a Woman," circa 1650, oil on panel.

Rembrandt's

Because of John Ringling’s keen eye and taste for the finest you’ll also find collections of Spanish Art, 1600-1700 and Art in Italy, 1700-1800, Venice and beyond.

And also represented in the Ringling Museum of Art are works from The European Grand Tour, 1700-1800.

The Grand Tour was primarily an 18th century phenomenon created by the British for wealthy travelers, artists and architects to see the artistic and architectural attractions of Italy.

There is a wealth of Renaissance art so large that all of it cannot be accounted for here in this page.

This is definitely an experience you must enjoy for yourself to really take in all that is offered from that period, which produced such a vast and varied number of works. 

(Tip: As I mention in other pages, if experiencing this is important to you, don't bring along anyone who will push you to go through at a faster pace than you're likely to be comfortable with. Sometimes it may be better to go solo.)  

Renaissance Art on display in one of the Ringling Art Museum galleries

I would venture to say that the Ringling Museum of Art, which opened to the public in 1931, is one of the great Renaissance Art Museums, if not in the world, in North America. 

Art from China on display at the Ringling Art Museum in Sarasota.

Over the years the museum has added to its growing collection of modern and contemporary art as we’ll, and there is a large gallery of Art from Asia with some strikingly beautiful works in addition to the exhibit, “Mythic Creatures of China.”

You’ll also be impressed to find a photo art gallery of the works of the late American fashion photographer Herb Ritts (1952 - 2002), and his L.A. Style collection.

All black and white portraits often in the style of classical Greek sculpture, Ritts  featured many celebrities, athletes actors and models including Cindy Crawford, and other stars of the day.

A classical harpsichord on display at the Ringling Art Muesum, Sarasota, Florida

The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art also hosts numerous special exhibitions throughout the year in the Searing Wing, which is also home to a Skyspace called Joseph’s Coat by James Turrell.

More Renaissance Art Collections at the Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota.

If you are a lover of any kind of art, especially the Renaissance period, you will appreciate the many works gathered by John Ringling and on display in countless galleries in the Ringling Museum of Art.

This is one of the true "Crown Jewels" of Sarasota attractions and one you should put on top of your “to do” list.

A bronze copy of David in the courtyard at the Ringling Art Muesum, Sarasota.

Special Events at the Ringling Estate throughout the year

Each third Thursday of the month is an outdoor event called “Ringling by the Bay” from 5 p.m. – 8 p.m. at the Ca’D’Zan Mansion. It takes place on the Sarasota bay front where you can enjoy the sunset along with live music and food and cocktails for purchase as part of the “Art after 5” experience. Admission: Adults, $10 Adults, Children 6-17, $5.

The John Ringling Mansion knwon as Ca'D'Zan on the Ringling Estate in Sarasota, Florida

The Ringling Estate and the performance galleries of The Florida State University's Ringling Center for the Arts host the Annual Ringling International Arts Festival for four days each October.

For additional information you can call and listen to recorded event information at (941) 351-1660.

There is also much more to see and enjoy while you’re on the 66 acre grounds of the Ringling Estate, which is also home to:

Entrance to the Ringling Circus Museum, Sarasota, FL
  • The Mable Ringling Rose Gardens
Mable Ringling's Rose Garden on the grounds of the Ringling Estate.
The Asolo Theater on the Ringling Grounds in Sarasota.
  • The Ringling Bayfront Gardens
The Ringling Bayfron Gardens in Sarasota.
  • The Ca’D’Zan (House of John), the Ringling’s Mansion on Sarasota Bay
Another veiw of The Ca’D’Zan  on The Ringling Estate in Sarasota, FL

and there are three places to grab a bite to eat on the grounds of the Ringling Estate:

  • The Banyan Café
  • Treviso Restaurant (941) 360-7390
  • The Museum Store Café
Renaissance Art on display in the Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota, Florida

Tips: For your special needs and convenience there are also complimentary tram stops along the pathways throughout the Ringling Estate and wheelchairs are available at The Ringling Museum of Art.

Hours: The Ringling Art Museum is open 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. daily and Thursdays until 8 p.m. Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Days

Admission: Adults $25; seniors (65 and older) $20; active U.S. military $10; students 18+ with ID $5; children 6-17 $5; Florida teachers with ID $10; children 6 and younger free. Adult 3-day pass $35, children age 6 - 17 3 day pass $10. Parking is free at this writing. (Admission prices subject to change over time)

Location: 5401 Bay Shore Road, Sarasota, FL 34243, (941) 351-1660.

Directions: From downtown Sarasota drive north on U.S. Rt. 41 (Tamiami Trail) to University Parkway. Turn left into the museum grounds and on to Bay Shore Road.




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