America's Best History Spotlight

On this page we're going to Spotlight the lesser known historic sites and attractions that dot the history landscape across the USA and are worth a visit if you're in their area. And while they may be lesser known, some are very unique, and will be that rare find. You'll be, at times, on the ground floor, or maybe even know something others don't. It'll be fun. Visit them.

Ringling Circus Museum

Ringling Circus Museum, Florida

With all the cinematic hubbub about the other half of the famous Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus history with the Greatest Showman Movie, a visit to the Ringling Circus Museum is both a nostalgic look back into the Ringling showman and a bit of a sad acknowledgement that after one hundred and forty-six years, there's no longer a Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey show to go to. You'll have to make do with this museum, or another circus, but boy, is this museum a fun place to look back into the life of the circus, John Ringling himself, his brothers, as well as the myriad of other museum parts of the Ringling Museum in Sarasota, Florida. It's now run by Florida State University, after some down years, and is spectacularly reborn as an ode to art and the circus. Photo above: Exterior of the Ringling Circus Museum. Courtesy Ringling Museum.

Info, What's There Now, History Nearby

Ringling Circus Elephants

Ringling Circus Museum

Located on the waterfront of Sarasota Bay, the Circus Museum, one of a number of buildings and gardens in the Ringling Museum complex, is a pleasure to visit for anyone interested in the circus arts or art in general. With the Circus Museum and its Tibbals Learning Center addition, you'll marvel at the visuals of Ringling's past, as well as a 44,000 piece model of a circus built by Howard Tibbals and completed in 1938. But that's far from all that's here. You can visit over one hundred thousand square feet of art collected by John Ringling over his life, as well as his 36,000 square foot estate house along the bay. There's also statue gardens, Dwarf Gardens, Rose Gardens, and a Millenium Tree Trail. All are accessed through a tram system, which for some, is a highlight all on its own.

Photo above: Ringling Circus elephants at the Capitol in Washington, D.C., 1995, Laura Patterson, CQ Roll Call Photograph Collection. Courtesy Library of Congress.

Where Is It

The Ringling Circus Museum is located on the campus of Florida State University at 5401 Bay Shore Road, Sarasota, FL 34243. It's located north of Sarasota, taking North Tamiami Trail, Route 41, to University Parkway. Turn left there onto the esplanade. You'll see parking on the right at the Florida State Center for the Performing Arts.

What is There Now

The Circus Museum includes a panoply of Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey circus memorabilia, including circus wagons, posters, and a complete model circus. There are 44,000 pieces to the model circus. As part of the entire Ringling Museum complex, there's the Ringling Museum of Art, plus the estate home of John and Mable Ringling, C'de'Zan. If you like a little outdoors with your visit, there's the 66 acre Bayfront Gardens.

How Much to Visit
The Ringling Museum and the Circus Museum are included in the same admission and include tours of both. It's somewhat pricey, but is, after all, the official Florida State Museum of Art. $25 for adults, Children through College Student $5, Under 6 free. And additional fee of $10 is required to enter C'de'Zan with a docent tour there $10 more than that.

Hours Open
The museums are open daily from 10:00 to 5:00 with extended hours on Thursday till 8:00 p.m. Closed major holidays.

Ringling Circus Museum
The Ringling Museum

History Nearby

You're probably in Florida to see a mouse or spend the winter along the western Florida Gulf Coast, but if you head south from the Sarasota area, you'll be moving toward the spectacular nature of the Big Cypress, Everglades, and Tamiami Trail, including Lake Okeechobee. If you don't want to go that far south for nature and you're at the museum, check out Myakka River State Park, it's just to the east.

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