I know I'm a little late, as I had mentioned last week that I would share about the other sections of The Ringling. But, here I am almost a week later (obviously I'm still working on my consistency). In my previous post, I focused only on the circus museum, but today I'm going to cover the mansion and the art museum. As I said before, it was a lot to take in. There was so much history packed into each place that we explored that day and I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it.
Let me briefly explain a bit of the history before I jump right into the photos. John Ringling was one of 5 brothers who owned and operated the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. In the 1920's, John was one of the richest men in America. He and his wife, Mable, purchased about 20 acres in Sarasota (along Sarasota Bay) back in 1911. In 1924, Dwight James Baum began construction on what is now one of the most beautiful pieces of Venetian Gothic architecture in the area. It took 2 years to complete. At 5 stories tall, this mansion — the Ca' d'Zan (or House of John) — holds 41 rooms and 15 bathrooms. Having the opportunity to walk the halls of this historic wonder was a real treat. We were also able to stroll around Mable's rose garden while we were exploring the grounds, which was really nice.
Both John and Mable shared a love for Italy and art (as if their choice in architectural style didn't give it away). While he traveled throughout Europe in search of acts to add to the circus, John began obtaining art and quickly built up a pretty large collection. It seemed the more that he collected, the more he fell in love with it all. He grew extremely passionate about art, both paintings and sculptures, learning everything that he could from books and dealers he came in contact with. After the mansion was completed, he built a museum that consisted of 21 galleries to showcase all of his precious pieces. John opened up the Museum of Art to the public in 1931, after his wife passed away two years prior. His hope was to help promote both education and appreciation for the art he had come to admire so dearly.
His collection was pretty impressive. I learned a lot while we were there and I certainly wouldn't mind visiting again in the future. If you're ever in the Sarasota area, make sure to add it to your list of must-sees. Now, let's get to the photos!