The Ringling Estate is an expansive and rewarding collection of various museums, historical buildings, and courtyards. Once the property of the founder of the Ringling Circus, John Ringling, the estate grounds have become a distinctive cultural hotspot for visitors to Sarasota and surrounding areas. Today, you can explore the infinite possibilities of the estate, exploring one building to another and taking the well-maintained landscaping, countless exhibits, and enlightening history.
It is common for visitors to stay at our Siesta Key resort and travel to the outskirts of Sarasota or Bradenton to see some popular sights – particularly The Ringling Estate. It is just about a 20 minute drive from our resort on Siesta Key, and you won’t regret the trip.
Two Museums, One Package
The Circus Museum and the Ringling Museum of Art are two separate museum sites on the same estate, with their own selection of buildings and displays.
The Ringling Museum of Art is a diverse and eclectic collection. Some people think that it celebrates the very famous Ringling Circus, but that is a separate museum entirely (also on the grounds and within walking distance).
This museum includes exhibitions from around the world, has multiple levels, and has continued to expand in the preceding years.
In the Ringling Circus Museum, clown cars, photos, memorabilia, prints, wardrobes, props, art, the railroad car on which the Ringling family used to travel the country, and other fascinating Ringling circus memorabilia can be seen.
What is Found Within the Ringling Museum of Art?
The Ringling Museum of Art sits on the eastern side of the estate grounds. It developed from just another addition in the Ringling estate to possibly the biggest attraction for both casual fans and art enthusiasts of all kinds.
It single-handedly draws individuals from all over the world to the west coast of Florida. Below is an overview of the various rooms, displays, and galleries within the museum.
The Rubens Gallery
Three massive rooms in the Museum of Art are covered in the work of Peter Paul Rubens. They span upwards of 30 feet and act as a main draw for visitors. They were collected personally by John Ringling and his family over decades of living in Sarasota. This Rubens Gallery has been grandfathered into a permanent part of the collection.
Temporary Exhibits and the Skyspace
The Museum also houses various temporary exhibits, typically showcasing local and other top artists. One such exhibit is a unique draw: the Skyspace. Designed by James Turrell, the exhibit will change colors throughout the day.
The mesmerizing room can seemingly manipulate the space through color, shadow, and illusion. It’s quite an attraction, and will create a wonderfully dizzying effect that can pull you into art like nothing else.
The Center for Asian Art
The Center for Asian Art is a separate wing in the museum, and it collects sculptures, stencil art, and other pieces from hundreds of years of culture in Japan and China. You can walk through various rooms as they span various eras, such as the Edo period and the Maoist era. There’s also a contemporary room in the main hall.
Hours, Prices, and Location
Visitors can receive entrance into the Circus Museum as well as the Ringling Circus Museum as a double package.
The cost is $25 for adults and $5 for children 6 to 17. Senior, resident, and member prices apply. The price of entrance does not include the Ca’D’Zan mansion. Another important thing to note: the museum is also 100% free every Monday, letting you save up to $25 per person! The free ticket also does not extend to the Ca’D’Zan mansion.
Take a Stop at the Ca’D’Zan Mansion
There is another famous piece of property on the estate which is within walking distance of either museum, the waterfront castle, called the Ca’D’Zan. It was once the winter home of the Ringling family.
The 56-room mansion is a glorious and inspirational sight. The Venetian Gothic style of the mansion is worth seeing up close on a tour. A separate ticket must be purchased to tour it.
Don’t miss The Ringling Museum of Art
The two combined museums contain a remarkable art collection that celebrates a history of family, art, and creativity in Sarasota. The Circus Museum largely showcases Ringling circus memorabilia while the Ringling Museum of Art is a mix of many genres of art across the world and through many eras.
Both are worthy of at least one or more trips. So, while you’re staying at our Siesta Key resort, don’t miss this once in a lifetime opportunity to get a firsthand glimpse of fascinating American circus history!