Tag Archives: Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus

Ca’ d’Zan Mansion at the Ringling Museum in Sarasota, Florida

This is the last post in a series on the Ringling Museum in Sarasota, Florida

Did you ever see Great Expectations with Gwyneth Paltrow and Ethan Hawke? Then you’ve seen the Ca’ d’Zan mansion at the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art. The movie portrayed it in quite a state of disrepair, but the real thing is gorgeous! It simply must be on your itinerary list if you come to Sarasota, Florida.

The Ca’ d’Zan represents Venetian Gothic architecture and sits right on Sarasota Bay. It’s an impressive sight with its beautiful orange hue and gorgeous colored windows. There are 56 rooms (41 rooms and 15 bathrooms), all with lovely furnishings and artwork. The construction on the “House of John” began in 1925 and the home was modeled after many sketches and photos that Mable Ringling had saved over the years. In 2002 it was carefully restored to its original splendor. There are tours at various times of the day, but you can always step onto the back terrace to catch a glimpse (unless there is a private party). The view of the bay is also wonderful from the home and they’ve spiffed up the area surrounding the house so you can sit on a bench or take a stroll near the bay.

Leading up to the mansion is the fragrant rose garden, always filled with lovely blooms. (At one time they held the Medieval Fair on the grounds of Ringling Museum, and I always fondly remember that the rose garden was a meeting spot during field trips.)  None of the original plants from 1913 survive, but there have been many wonderful varieties planted in their place. There are beautiful reds, pinks, oranges, yellows, and purples bursting all over it! It’s definitely a fun trip to walk in the rows and read the funny names of some of the roses.

I note that the website mentions the Secret Garden. I’ve never noticed that specifically, yet another thing to take a look at in another trip. I hope our series on the museum entices you to visit soon.

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Ringling Museum in Sarasota, Florida

This is the second post in a 3-part series about the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota, Florida. 

My first post on the Ringling Museum was about the spectacular Beyond Bling show. But the museum has tons more to offer! I think it must be fairly unique in that it has a well-stocked traditional art museum, a circus museum, gardens, and a historic home on the same property. I’ll cover the art and circus museum in this post, followed by a post about the home and gardens next week.

John Ringling, of course, was an owner of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey circus. The winter quarters for the circus was at one time in the Sarasota, Florida area and Mr. Ringling and his wife eventually made it their home. He had some fabulous art pieces, so he wanted his own museum to showcase them. After his death,  he bequeathed the art museum he had built to the state of Florida. Thus, the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art was born. For more information about this, visit http://www.ringling.org/ArtMuseum.aspx

Today, the Ringling Museum houses wonderful paintings by Rubens, van Dyck,  El Greco, and other artists. In addition, there are sculptures and other priceless items such as furniture and vases on display. The Museum also features traveling exhibitions that span many time periods and subjects.

The Circus Museum was created in 1948 and touts itself as the first museum of its type in the United States. On display you’ll find costumes, posters, tools, wagons, memorabilia, and more. I always enjoy the large display of circus posters. It’s fun to see how they changed over the years. The exhibits also pay respect to many of the important clowns and performers, like Emmett Kelly, and there is a planned expansion in Fall 2011 that will showcase them even more. One of the other popular parts of the Circus Museum is the The Howard Bros. Circus Model. This is lots of fun–very musical and magical.

Something I don’t recall seeing is the private Ringling railroad car on display. Sounds like I need to plan a visit this fall when the expansion opens to see all the new sites!

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Filed under Family travel, Our Town, Sarasota, Travel