Gifts to the Collection

The Ringling accepts donations to the collections according to procedures that ensure that the donation is appropriate for the collection.

The types of items which The Ringling collects is driven by the current Collections Management Policy, as well as other internal procedures and considerations. Currently, our focus includes:

  • Adding selectively to the European art collection, Asian art collection, and to other important existing collections to maintain the museum’s comparative advantage nationally and its position internationally.
  • Developing the collection of twentieth and twenty-first century art, and contemporary visual and performance art.
  • Maintaining and collecting an adequate number of decorative art objects to support exhibitions of decorative art and to further the understanding and appreciation of the other collections in the museum.
  • Maintaining and further developing a regionally important library of institutional records, monographs, exhibition catalogues, handbooks of museums and private collections, directories, indices and abstracts, and manuscript material to document the history of The Ringling, the Ringling family and the American circus, and to maintain the collection of books from John Ringling’s personal library.


  • The Ringling Archives supports the educational and administrative goals of the Museum by collecting, arranging, preserving, and making available for use and exhibition, records, audio-visual materials, manuscripts, printed and related archival materials that document:
    • The Ringling family
    • the influence and impact of John and Mable Ringling on Sarasota
    • the founding, development, programs, and activities of the Museum
    • the history of the circus arts, Wild West shows and allied arts
    • the continuing impact of the Circus Arts on Sarasota

The Museum Archives may acquire collection items by gift, bequest, purchase, transfer, or other legal means. The Archives staff is happy to accept those gifts that are consistent with the Archives’ collection policy. The Chief Archivist reserves the right to accept or decline those gifts not appropriate for the Archives.

Only unrestricted gifts will be accepted. Unsolicited deposits which arrive at the Archives without a known or identifiable owner will be considered forfeited property and evaluated for condition and usefulness to the Archives to determine proper disposal or to be accessioned. Procedures for establishing ownership of such property shall take place in accordance with Florida Sunshine Law.

Donation process

The form below must be completed in order to donate an object. The information will be shared with the appropriate curator, archivist, or librarian. Once that staff member determines that the object fits within our collection scope, an internal group consisting of curators, registrars, conservators, and other professionals determines if the potential donation should be considered for acceptance. At this point, the object is presented to the Collections Committee—which is made up of staff and of members of the Board of Directors of The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art Foundation, Inc.—for their consideration. The Collections Committee gives final recommendation to the Board of Directors. At one of their regularly scheduled meetings, the Board of Directors makes a final decision on accepting the donation.

Certain library and archival materials are accepted into research collections which are not under the purview of The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art Foundation, Inc., and may be accepted without approval of its Board of Directors.

Once a donation is accepted, arrangements are then made for its shipment to The Ringling.

How do I donate?

If you have an item that you would like us to consider for donation, please submit the following form:

Donation Inquiry Form