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Travel Tips

Spend an afternoon exploring the Ringling Museum of Arts

Sarasota and Bradenton have been considered the cultural center of Florida by many residents and visitors. One of the most important artistic and historical pieces in the Sarasota area is the Ringling Center for the Cultural Arts, which encompasses the Ca d’Zan mansion, the Ringling Museum of Art and the Circus Museum.

John Ringling and his six brothers founded the Ringling Brothers Circus but John Ringling’s business tactics kept the name of the circus alive and well today. Founded in 1870 and quickly becoming the name most synonymous with circus acts in America, the Ringling Brothers are associated with Sarasota because John Ringling moved the performers and animals here in the early part of the twentieth century and made this the permanent winter training station. The Museum of the Circus displays artifacts, photographs and exhibits from the days of the Ringling brothers and provides fun educational information to visitors. For instance, after moving the winter circus headquarters to Sarasota, Ringling used the circus elephants to build the first bridge from Sarasota to St. Armands Key, which is now considered one of the most luxurious residential and vacation areas in the Sarasota area.
John Ringling and his wife Mabel built an elaborate mansion estate overlooking Sarasota Bay, naming the estate Ca d’Zan, meaning “House of John” in a Venetian dialect. The mansion estate encompasses 66 acres and houses 32 rooms and is meant to resemble the Venetian Renaissance homes of the 16th and 17th centuries. Part of Ringling’s fame comes from his extensive art collection, which has turned into the Ringling Museum of Art, with 21 galleries of paintings, especially those of 17th century Flemish artist, Peter Paul Rubens and many other famous European artists of the time period. The museum of art works in conjunction with Florida State University and is considered the state museum for Florida and the largest museum in the country.

The Ringling Center for the Cultural Arts works with many area schools to provide elementary and high school children with education in the fine arts. As well, the Ringling School of Art and Design is named after John Ringling’s love for the arts and entertainment. The Ringling Museums are open daily from 10-5:30 pm. Admission for entrance is $15/Adults. Children under 12 are free with an adult. Admission is free to the Museum of Art only on Mondays. For more information about rates or admission prices call 941-358-3180 or visit the website at

To find the Ringling Museums from Venice take US-41/Tamiami Trail all the way north to Sarasota Bay. The museum will be right on the water near the Jungle Gardens.


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