Sarasota is becoming known as a popular arts destination. Please make sure to visit:
The Ringling: Located on the estate of John Ringling, the famed circus owner, you could spend a good part of a day exploring The Ringling, its museums, gardens and performing arts venues. Highlights of the large complex include:
The John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art: This is a large museum, located in a stunning building opened in 1931, built to house the collection of European art acquired by John Ringling in the late 1920’s. Here you will see works by Rubens, Veronese, Velazques and Gainsborough. There is a growing collection of modern and contemporary art as well as Asian art. They also feature special exhibitions throughout the year. I loved seeing the Skyspace created by James Turrell, one of my favorite contemporary artists. The Center for Asian Art is officially opening in May, 2016 and will feature the Museum’s Asian art collection.
Ca’ D’Zan, or House of John, was the winter home of John and Mable Ringling that was built between 1924 to 1926 in the Venetian Gothic style. It is a stunning property along the water. Guided or self-guided tours are available.
Circus Museum: A visit to the Circus Museum, established in 1948, is a must as you will explore the history of the Ringling Bros. and their circus as well as see the Ringling’s private Pullman rail car and number of antique circus wagons.
Historic Asolo Theater: Across from the Ringling is home to theater, music and dance performances.
For dining options there is the Muse Restaurant, in the visitor pavilion, which is sit-down dining and the Banyan Cafe for casual dining in the middle of the Bayfront Gardens. There is also a cafe for coffee above the Museum Store.
Throughout the year there are circus performances, theater performances plus classical music and chamber music concerts. Check the website for the calendar and tickets.
Other Arts organizations in town include:
Not from The Ringling is the Ringling College of Art and Design. Here you can walk through the campus and visit seven separate galleries. There are exhibition by students, faculty, community members and other artists. The Sarasota Museum of Art is a division of the College.
Sarasota Opera, 61 N. Pineapple Ave.: Opera fans might want to attend one of their four operas during the season. The Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall hosts a number of music performances plus concerts, theater and musicals, dance, ballet and comedy.