Welcome to The Ringling
The current issue of The Ringling highlights two growing collections at the museum, our documentary photography collection and Circus poster collection. The Circus collection is a rich compendium of objects, works on paper, and archives that follows the birth and rapid growth of the American circus from the 19th century to the 21st century. The poster collection contains over 7,500 circus posters and other advertising materials used by American and European circuses. From the Four Corners of the Globe, an exhibition in the Tibbals poster gallery will highlight the marketing of international performers, exotic creatures, and historic spectacles. Featuring a number of posters from the late 19th century, Four Corners explores how global cultures were represented and misrepresented to small communities throughout the world via the traveling circus. We are also pleased to highlight a recent acquisition of photographs by the New York-based photographer Builder Levy with the exhibition Appalachia USA. For over 40 years, Builder Levy has been photographing the life, landscape, and people of Appalachia as it has evolved over the past half-century. I hope you will have the opportunity to explore both of these exhibitions in The Ringling’s galleries this summer and re-visit your favorite works in our permanent collection.
Several years ago, the Friends of Asian Art was formed to bring increased attention and programming to a treasured part of our collection that was infrequently exhibited. With the construction of our center for Asian art nearing completion, the lack of exhibition space will be in the past and a rich collection of objects from Asia will always be on view. The success of this Friends group has inspired us to develop special interest groups for contemporary art and performance (Friends of Art of Our Time), the Circus, Ca’ d’Zan, and original art museum galleries and grounds (Friends of the Legacy), and Library (Friends of the Art Library). Each group has three to four special events throughout the year that provide behind-the-scenes opportunities to engage with artists and scholars. It is an excellent way for members to meet other members who share a passion for different areas of the museum’s collections and programs. All members are invited to join a Friends group, and the cost directly supports Friends’ activities. I hope you will consider participating in one or several of the Friends groups that interest you.