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    The Ringling Honors Veterans with "Witness to War"

    The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art is exhibiting Witness to War: WWII Photographs from the Collections of Veterans from June 24-Oct. 27, 2013 as part of the Legacy of Valor Campaign, honoring the service and sacrifice of veterans and their families. Included in the exhibition are a selection of photographs from The Ringling’s permanent collection and the Institute on World War II and the Human Experience at Florida State University. Witness to War is made possible through the generous support of the Patterson Foundation.

    “The Witness to War exhibition at The Ringling honors U.S. veterans through a gripping visual account of World War II via the lenses of soldier-photographers who documented their first-hand experiences at war,” said Steven High, executive director of The Ringling. “We are fortunate to have access to the archives from both our recent collection of photography from Warren J. and Margot Coville, as well as our partners at Florida State University. We look forward to sharing these rarely-seen images with our audiences.”

    In 2011, Coville donated a collection of more than 700 photographs to The Ringling. These images, in addition to a selection of his personal artifacts, record Coville’s World War II service as part of the U.S. Army Air Force.

    Images from his collection were part of a Fall 2012 exhibition, which examined the human condition as it relates to major world events throughout the 20th and 21st centuries.

    Featuring snapshots, candid portraits, and pictures documenting action on the front lines, Witness to War is comprised of photographs from the personal collections of veterans and offers a unique historical perspective of WWII from individual servicemen. During WWII, Coville was stationed in England. As the Allies ramped up aerial raids over Europe, he photographed perilous bombing missions in action from his position within a B-17 “Flying Fortress.”  The Coville collection includes many breath-taking images from those daring raids while other images provide invaluable documentation of the unique culture and daily life of US Airmen during their deployment at this critical moment in history.

    Other photographs on loan from the Institute on World War II and the Human Experience at Florida State University give testament to global scope of the war, as they document the service and sacrifice of soldiers, sailors, and marines in the European and Pacific theaters. These photographs from veterans will be displayed alongside signature images by well-known war photographers to encourage viewers to compare iconic historical images to those taken by servicemen themselves and are often more personal and seldom seen.

    “The Institute on World War II and the Human Experience at Florida State University is pleased to collaborate with The Ringling on Witness to War,” said Kurt Piehler, Institute Director and Associate Professor of History, with the Institute on World War II and the Human Experience at Florida State University. “The Institute is loaning WWII memorabilia from our remarkable collection that tells the personal accounts of the everyday men and women who helped to win the war.”

    The Legacy of Valor campaign highlights a series of community-driven partnerships to create a tapestry of events that educate, build enthusiasm and focus the community toward honoring veterans and their families, inspiring patriotism and embracing freedom. The yearlong campaign culminates with the dedication of Patriot Plaza in spring 2014. The Patterson Foundation created the Legacy of Valor campaign as an extension of its first-of-its-kind partnership with the National Cemetery Administration to design and construct Patriot Plaza at Sarasota National Cemetery.

    Witness to War is on exhibit in The Ringling Museum of Art’s Ulla R. and Arthur F. Searing Wing from June 24 to Oct. 27.  On Saturday, June 15, 2013 at 10:30 a.m. in The Ringling Historic Asolo Theater a ViewPoint lecture preceding the exhibition opening will be given by Kenny Irby, Poynter’s Senior Faculty, Visual Journalism and Diversity and Director of Community Relations. Irby is an integral figure in visual journalism education, having founded Poynter’s photojournalism program in 1995.  His lecture will give the audience tools for a deep engagement with the images on view in the exhibition.

    Gallery Walk and Talks explore the dual nature of these experiences and how these photos bear witness to these distinct, yet intertwined, points of view. Museum staff and content experts discuss the photographs in this exhibition, which speak to both photography’s crucial role in the official documentation of the events of war, as well as the personal stories of the soldiers who captured the images. These gallery talks occur Thursday, July 11, 6:00 p.m., and Thursday, August 1, 6:00 p.m.

    Also The Ringling is screening Witness to War on film with a series of movies on Sundays at 2:00 p.m. at The Ringling Historic Asolo Theater.  In the early 1940s, Hollywood released a number of films that sought not only to entertain, but also to boost America’s patriotic spirit.  Just as they had done during the Great Depression, movies gave audiences the encouragement they needed by celebrating the nation’s values, beliefs, and place in history

    Wake Island starring Brian Donlevy and Robert Preston, and directed by John Farrow is being shown on August 4. Wake Island is the inspiring true story of the Marines and construction workers who bought time for the United States by holding off the Japanese juggernaut in a heroic last stand at Wake Island.

    So Proudly We Hail starring Claudette Colbert and Paulette Goddard and directed by Mark Sandrich is being shown on August 11. A stirring, patriotic drama of the romance and heroism of the Army Nurses who fought side by side with the men of Bataan and Corregidor, So Proudly We Hail is one of the most popular and successful films of the wartime era.

    Destination Tokyo starring Cary Grant, John Garfield, and Dane Clark and directed by Delmar Daves is being shown on August 18. Filmed during World War II, and making use of newsreel footage, this taut action film is a realistic account of a submarine mission into Tokyo Bay. The films are free of charge for Museum Members and $5 for non-members with Museum admission.  Reservations are suggested: 941.360.7399.

    The Witness to War exhibition and film series are part of Legacy of Valor, a community campaign presented in partnership with The Patterson Foundation that will inform and engage our community leading up to the dedication of Patriot Plaza, a ceremonial amphitheater at Sarasota National Cemetery. 

    About Legacy of Valor

    Legacy of Valor is a campaign that rallies our community to honor veterans, inspire patriotism and embrace freedom leading up to the spring 2014 dedication of Patriot Plaza at Sarasota National Cemetery. A mosaic of community-driven partnerships will educate, build enthusiasm and focus the community to use time, talent and treasure to recognize the service and sacrifice of all veterans throughout the campaign and beyond. For more information, please visit