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Director's Welcome

Welcome to The Ringling

As The Ringling anticipates welcoming the newest facility—the center for Asian art—to its beautiful 66-acre campus on Sarasota Bay in early 2016, it seems an auspicious moment to explore the institution’s profound and sustained commitment to the arts of Asia and how it is becoming a prominent Asian cultural resource for our region. The Ringling’s scope and reach have always been global in nature. A natural outgrowth of both our historic collections and our wide-ranging international initiatives, The Ringling’s expanded focus on Asian art reinforces for our community the importance and relevance of Asian culture in the twenty-first century.

John and Mable Ringling traveled widely with their collecting interests at the forefront of their travels. They began collecting Asian art in the 1920s and subsequent major gifts to the Museum have extended the reach of the Asian collections, which cut across a range of cultures, eras, and media. For example, in 2001 Ira and Nancy Koger brought their astonishing collection of nearly 400 pieces of Chinese ceramics—the earliest of which is 2,000 years old—to The Ringling. The Koger Collection will be on permanent view for the first time in the new center for Asian art.

The Ringling’s growing contemporary and modern Asian holdings build on these impressive strengths and underline the Museum’s ongoing focus on the art of our time. This fall, The Ringling will kick off a season of Asia as part of the countdown to the opening of the new center for Asian art. On October 9, we will debut Royal Taste: The Art of Princely Courts in Fifteenth-century China, the first major collaboration of its kind for an art museum in the state of Florida.  The Ringling will be partnering with the Hubei Provincial Museum, a premier institution in China, bringing significant artworks to the United States never before shown outside of China. Also in October, we will launch the seventh season of the Ringling International Arts Festival (RIAF), which will feature seven genre-defying productions that represent the dynamism of contemporary performing artists across Asia.

Looking ahead, we anticipate future partnerships with Asian museums and artists, weaving these cultural conversations throughout our exhibitions, programs, and research. By reflecting the most current thinking on the traditions and contemporary practices from this vast and diverse continent, we will continue John and Mable Ringling’s legacy of creative excellence and engaged global citizenship.

Steven High
Executive Director

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