When you hear the word Ringling, it makes you think of the circus, yes? Well, that’s exactly what this museum in Sarasota on the east coast of Florida is all about. It’s about the Ringling family and the Ringling Circus. This may be one of the most unusual and fun museums that I’ve ever visited. The topic is fun, interesting and very historical. Bet you didn’t know Ringling Circus was from Florida and Sarasota? I admit I didn’t but when I discovered this as an option for Museum Day Live, I couldn’t resist.
Brace yourself upon arrival as The Ringling is actually a grouping of several museums on one grounds which is large. There is a tram to take you from building to building but I was too impatient to wait for it. With a museum day live ticket, you gain access to view the Circus Museum and the Museum of Art for free.
Since I arrived later in the afternoon, I was only able to make it to the Circus Museum and the Tibbals Learning Center. I highly recommend both.
The Circus Museum Galleries
In the Circus Museum, you can view the real train that the Ringling family used to travel across the country with the various carriages transporting the circus to different towns. There are also carved wooden carriages that were used to transport the animals on show. It may seem strange to say but I walked away feeling like there was much more respect, care and love for the circus animals back then (versus now). Still, even back then, those animals were in captivity and made to do tricks for our entertainment which isn’t cool. As well, there is a human canon which I thought was pretty awesome. Too bad it wasn’t in use for test humans.
Tibbals Learning Center
The Tibbals Learning Center is next door to the Circus Museum galleries and has a lot more paraphenilia from the circus. Here you can view a documentary of the family’s life and travels, circus props and the main course: the largest miniature replica of the entire circus by Howard Tibbal. Check out Tibbal on The Ringling blog.
I hope to return at some point and update my post with more information on the Museum of Art, Ca’ D’Zan and the Bayfront Gardens. Overall, The Ringling was fun and it’s a great family friendly museum. There were tons of kids and they were really enjoying.