Thursday, October 8, 2015

Ringling Museum in Sarasota, FL

One of the places that we have been told is a must-see around here is the John and Mable Ringling Museum in Sarasota, FL. On Thursday we went to visit it, using our Norman Rockwell Museum pass with NARM reciprocity to get in (and saving a cool $50 in entrance fees--yay!)

This place is amazing. I took so many photographs that it was really difficult to narrow them down for you.  Here are the highlights.
The first building you walk to houses the most incredible diorama I have ever seen--the circus in all its glory.  The size of this thing is immense, and the man responsible for it has been adding to it since the 1950s. It takes you from the train station, past local businesses, to the big top and all of the other tents in a circus, the animals, and the performers, all recreated in tiny detail. There are supposedly even tiny tickets and dollar bills in cash registers.

My photos really don't do this justice, because one camera shot cannot contain even a fraction of this display. Something you really have to see for yourself.

In this building you can see a bandwagon (as in the expression "get on the bandwagon") and other actual circus cars.

 I showed off my equestrian skills by doing some bareback riding.
Bob wasn't at all afraid of this big guy!

The next building we visited featured a woodcarver's shop. This camel has been a work in progress for 6 years. The detail on this camel is amazing! The shop reproduces vintage woodcarvings that are featured on circus wagons and carousels.

The wagons were gorgeous!
This one made me want to eat animal crackers, for some reason.
 Here is the vehicle which was used to shoot the human cannonball.
The train car here was used by John and Mable Ringling on their honeymoon and to travel the country.  It is very luxurious and features separate state rooms for John and Mable, a kitchen and rooms for the staff, a dining room, and an observation room which was a large salon, used for entertaining. Clarestorey windows with stained glass bring in light to every room. Visitors walk along a deck outside the train to peer inside the rooms.
The museum features a huge poster collection.

Next we walked to John and Mabel Ringling's mansion. They only lived in in a few years, unfortunately.  It is over the top in opulence.
 The home sits on the Sarasota Bay, in a lovely location.
The main salon is lit by a massive skylight, which provides an abundance of natural light.
 It features a tap room....
 ...and the first residential elevator in Florida.
The tile of different types of stone outside on the veranda is beautiful and ornate.

We were not able to see everything, and may go back tomorrow to see the art museum. Stay tuned!

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