Gifts Help Ringling Museum Make Wisconsin Car Restoration Possible
SARASOTA, Fla. – June 26, 2009 – A small handful of donors passionate about the circus, private railroad cars and the Ringling Museum has made the restoration of the Wisconsin railroad car at The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art possible. Visitors to the Museum have been able to view the Wisconsin and the ongoing restoration efforts since January 2009.
“We are thankful to have such a wonderful opportunity to connect donors with their passions particularly in these challenging economic times,” said Ringling Museum Executive Director Dr. John Wetenhall. “Their generosity allows us to bring the Wisconsin back to its original grandeur and attract visitors from around the world. These donors stand as an example for others to follow.”
Notable gifts for the project include $110,000 from the Esther M. Mertz Charitable Trust. The donation will allow for the completion of the restoration efforts. “I am pleased to be able to help preserve such an important part of the Ringling legacy,” said Mrs. Esther M. Mertz. Financial donors to the project also include David A. Hagelstein, the Les and Judy Smout Foundation, Howard and Janice Tibbals, David Duncan and others who wish to remain anoynomous.
Built by the Pullman Company in 1905, the Wisconsin was John & Mable Ringling’s private railroad car that transported them around the country and between New York and Sarasota, Florida. At 79 feet long, the car contains observation room, dining room, sleeping compartments, kitchen, bathroom and crew’s quarters. The interiors include inlaid mahogany, ornate moldings and stained glass.
The Ringling Museum’s conservation team and volunteers have been restoring the interior since August 2008 using historical photographs, documents and drawings. Restoration efforts have included recreating decorative moldings, cleaning and repairing original stained glass, re-varnishing walls and fabricating some component parts of the car.
For more information about the Wisconsin railroad car and the Ringling Museum, please visit www.ringling.org.