To be perfectly honest with you I was not super exited about going here when I first heard about it. I am not a big circus fan and I expected this museum to be kind of lame and maybe even somewhat boring. I was so wrong! Going here was my mother inlaw's idea and I am so glad we did go. This was one of the best and most impressive museums I have ever visited.
The Ringling brothers that are famous and synonymous with anything that has to do with circus had their winter residence here in Sarasota. The circus was something that came to the US in the early 20th century and became huge during the 1920'ties up to 1950. This was the one and only kind of big entertainment that was available and came to towns of all sizes. This was all before TV and before cinemas. The circus offered a first time for people to see many exotic animals that had never before been seen.
The circus would travel around the country but only stay in one place 1 day! The logistics of packing and unpacking even impressed generals of the US army. Hundreds of animals and thousands of people belonging to the circus moved every day. Everyone had to know exactly what to do and master their tasks to perfection.
What impressed me the most was the miniature circus replica that had been made and set up. The details were truly astonishing. Everything was there and there was such incredible detail given to every little figure down to the tiniest detail such as facial expression. I have never before seen a more elaborate replica of anything before. The man behind the replica is Howard Tibbal and it took him 50 years to complete it. That is true dedication! This miniature replica captured us all very much.
Circus Model, a 44,000-piece re-creation of the Ringling Bros. Circus combined shows from 1919-1938.
The Ringling brothers estate includes a lot more than just the circus museum. The gardens are really beautiful. Isen't this a cool tree? It is hard to get a good feeling of it's size but it was very large.
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.
The Ringling residence was located right by the Sarasota bay. A cloudy day but nevertheless beautiful. We did the self guided tour of the Ringling mansion. A very impressive and modern house and home for the 1020'ies. The top picture shows the front of the house.
The Ringling family made and had a lot of money.They also had an impressive art collection. Besides the circus museum there was also an art museum located on the property. This is the courtyard of the art museum which is impressive and beautiful in itself.
So if you happen to be visiting in the Sarasota area and don't feel like hanging on the beach I can highly recommend a visit to the circus museum. It is something that everyone of all ages can enjoy. A true gem when it comes to museums. It is easy to spend a full day here.