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The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art is the state art museum of Florida, located in Sarasota, Florida.[2] It was established in 1927 as the legacy of Mable Burton Ringling and John Ringling for the people of Florida. Florida State University assumed governance of the Museum in 2000.[3]

Designated as the official state art museum for Florida,[4] the institution offers twenty-one galleries of European paintings as well as Cypriot antiquities and Asian, American, and contemporary art. The museum's art collection currently consists of more than 10,000 objects that include a variety of paintings, sculpture, drawings, prints, photographs, and decorative arts from ancient through contemporary periods and from around the world. The most celebrated items in the museum are 16th–20th-century European paintings, including a world-renowned collection of Peter Paul Rubens paintings.[5] Other artists represented include Benjamin West, Marcel Duchamp, Diego Velázquez, Paolo Veronese, Rosa Bonheur, Gianlorenzo Bernini, Giuliano Finelli, Lucas Cranach the Elder, Frans Hals, Nicolas Poussin, Joseph Wright of Derby, Thomas Gainsborough, Eugène Boudin, and Benedetto Pagni.

In all, more than 150,000 square feet (14,000 m2) have been added to the campus, which includes the art museum, circus museum, and Ca' d'Zan, the Ringlings' mansion, which has been restored, along with the historic Asolo Theater. New additions to the campus include the McKay Visitor's Pavilion, the Kotler-Coville Glass Pavilion exhibiting studio glass art, the Johnson-Blalock Education Building housing The Ringling Art Library and Cuneo Conservation Lab, the Tibbals Learning Center complete with a miniature circus, the Searing Wing, a 30,000-square-foot (2,800 m2) gallery for special exhibitions attached to the art museum, the Chao Center for Asian Art, and the Monda Gallery for Contemporary Art.[6][7]

History

Saint Sebastian by Niccolò De Simone in the Neapolitan paintings section

A. Everett (Chick) Austin Jr., a member of the International Brotherhood of Magicians and, from 1927 to 1944, the innovative director of the Wadsworth Atheneum, was the Ringling Museum's first director.[8]

John Ringling willed his property and art collection, plus a $1.2 million endowment, to the people of State of Florida upon his death in 1936. One instruction of the will states that no one has permission to ever change the official name of the museum. For the next 10 years the museum was opened irregularly and not maintained professionally, Ca' d'Zan was not opened to the public, while the State fought with Ringling's creditors over the estate (Ringling was nearly bankrupt at his death; Florida would finally prevail in court in 1946). Even after prevailing in court, the Florida Department of State (who had initial responsibility for the Museum) did virtually nothing to manage the endowment or maintain the property, while the local community (believing the Museum to be the State's responsibility) did little to support the Museum. By the late 1990s Ca' d'Zan was falling apart (as were the exterior footpaths and roads), the Museum had a serious roof leak plus its security systems were wholly inadequate to protect its collection, and the Asolo Theater building was actually condemned, while the $1.2 million endowment had grown to only $2 million.[9]

The State of Florida transferred responsibility of the Museum to Florida State University in 2000.[3] As part of the reorganization it created a Board of Trustees consisting of no more than 31 members, of which at least one-third must be residents of either Manatee or Sarasota counties.[10]

In 2002 it appropriated $42.9 million in construction funds, with one condition: the Museum had to raise $50 million in private sector support within five years; the Museum raised $55 million by the deadline.[9]

In January 2007, a $76-million expansion and renovation of the Museum of Art was finished. A new Arthur F. and Ulla R. Searing Wing was added—the new wing being the final component of a five-year master plan that has transformed the museum. It is now the sixteenth largest in the United States.[6]

In 2013, The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art was renamed The Ringling.[clarification needed]

Ringling Estate

Aside from the art museum, the estate also contains the Ringling's mansion, Ca' d'Zan, Mable Ringling's rose garden, the Circus Museum and Tibbals Learning Center, the historic Asolo Theater, the Ringling Art Library, the Secret Garden, gravesite of John and Mable Ringling and the FSU Center for the Performing Arts. [1][2]