The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art broke a single-year total visitors record during 2014-15.
The Ringling welcomed 400,209 total visitors during its 2014-15 fiscal year, which is a 4 percent increase from the previous year. The 2013-14 fiscal year was the previous record at The Ringling, when 384,323 visitors came through the doors. The Ringling’s fiscal year begins each year on July 1.
The Ringling has witnessed spectacular growth in total visitors in the past few years. The Ringling drew almost 100,000 more visitors in 2014-2015 than in 2011-12. That is a growth of 33 percent in four years.
“The number of total visitors in the past year is another milestone for The Ringling,” Steven High, executive director of The Ringling said. “From our exciting contemporary exhibitions to the history of the circus to the historic Ca’d’Zan, there is always something new to discover at The Ringling.”
The Ringling continues to enhance our vision of creating extraordinary experiences for guests through such recent special exhibitions such as:
“Re:Purposed” featured the works of 10 living artists, who transformed cast-off materials into art through a distinct creative process. The exhibition was on view from Feb. 13-May 17, 2015. Re:Purposed included works from El Anatsui, Mac Premo, Nick Cave and a site specific piece, “Hut #10,” which was constructed by Jill Sigman. To create “Hut #10” for The Ringling, Sigman spent several weeks in Sarasota, FL, collecting materials from across the area and from members of The Ringling community that were used to build the new work.
“Seeing the Unseen” displayed contemporary Chinese photography and video. The works of eight artists were featured. During the display of the exhibition, Beijing-based artist Li Wei visited and created commissioned works for his series “Mirror” and “To Fly.” The images are now a part of The Ringling’s permanent collection. The artists featured in the exhibition, individually and as a group, use art photography and video to tackle issues of identity and experience, youth culture and urban development, history and memory, and the conflicts of tradition and commercialization in contemporary China.
In addition to visual art, The Ringling offers some of the best in performing arts during the “Ringling International Arts Festival” (RIAF) and “New Stages.” RIAF 2014 featured 32 performances of eight productions from around the world, and it enjoyed box office revenues that were 2.5 times the previous year’s festival. “New Stages” 2015 was a five-part exhibition of contemporary performances created in response to historic and anticipated influences.
How will The Ringling top 2014-15? The Museum has huge plans for the next year. This October, The Ringling will present “Royal Taste: The Art of Princely Courts in 15th-Century China,” an exhibition curated by The Ringling’s Wall-Apelt Curator of Asian Art, Fan Zhang, that explores the lives of nobility in late imperial China. Featuring more than 110 works of jewelry, metalwork, painting, sculpture, textile, and porcelain from recently-found royal tombs and the sacred Daoist Mt. Wudang, “Royal Taste” offers a rare glimpse into the lives of princely courts in the early to mid-Ming dynasty (1368-1644).
The Ringling continues its focus on the arts and cultures of Asian during “Ringling International Arts Festival” Oct. 15-18, 2015. The festival will feature seven different stage productions ranging from a circus that was founded by performers orphaned by war to a composer known for combining traditional music with experimental imagery.
In early 2016, The Ringling will open the Center for Asian Art in the Dr. Helga Wall-Apelt Gallery of Asian Art. The project includes the construction of a building designed by the internationally renowned architecture firm of Machado Silvetti and the renovation of almost 15,000 square feet in the Museum’s 1960s expansion. The new center will provide an additional 6,800 square feet of gallery space for the display of Asian art, a 125-person lecture hall, a print/study room, a seminar room, and open object storage all linked by a new bridge connecting the pavilion to The Ringling’s existing Johnson-Blalock Education Center.
As the newest addition to The Ringling’s campus, it will enhance our visitors’ experience with a new perspective on the art of Asia. Add this new addition to a museum that already includes the oldest Circus Museum in North America, John and Mable Ringling’s historic 56-room mansion, Ca’d’Zan, and the Museum of Art, all of which sit on 66 acres of The Ringling’s Bayfront Gardens on Sarasota Bay, visitors and locals alike will continue to have extraordinary experiences at The Ringling.