My daughters and I went to the The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art
Should you wish to see all the photos I took that day, please visit here.
One thing to note before I get started is we had to cross the Sunshine Skyway to get to the Museum. It's the world's longest bridge with a cable-stayed main span, with a length of 29,040 feet. One of Florida's architectural gems that needed to be mentioned.
The visitor's pavilion is where you can watch a short 5 minute film of the history on the location. You can buy your tickets and of course, shop in the museum store.
First building we toured was the Circus Museum's Tibbals Learning Center which focused on the history of the circus as well as housed the 3800 square foot model depicting The Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus from 1919-1938.
They had a lot of great interactive exhibits for the kids. This particular one was a magnetic wall where the girls could put together their own poster of words. It's main function was to showcase how in the early days of the circus, they used catchy words on their posters to get people to attend the circus.
The Howard Bros. Circus Model was just amazing, the level of detail that went into making this structure was just unbelievable.
Complete with 8 main tents, 152 wagons, 1,300 circus performer and workers, more than 800 animals and a 59 car train, the model is 3,800 square feet. It's the world largest, "miniature circus" and it took Howard Tibbals more than 50 years to complete.
Upstairs they had more circus displays and they also had 2 spots where you could look down on the model below.
They also had these great standees, I told my kids to act like clowns, they didn't have to reach very far.
They also had a wonderful display of various costumes to see. Unfortunately they were all black dropped with red lights so taking photos wasn't optimal.
The Ringling Museum complex sits on 66 acres of various buildings and gardens, tram service is provided for those that can't or won't do the walk but if you can, I recommend walking as the grounds are quite beautiful.
There were a lot of Banyan Trees everywhere, I love these trees, they have so much character!
Our next stop was the original Circus Museum building where they housed some more of the larger circus items, like the train cars, animal cages etc..
Some of these cars where just amazing, the amount of detail that went into making these must have taken forever.
They also had a section devoted to clowns, personally they creep me out so we didn't stay there long but they did have this costume for Emmitt Kelly, one of the most popular clowns in history.
We ate here at the Banyan Cafe for lunch, a little more than a glorified concession stand but the food was good and the price wasn't unreasonable.
Mable Ringling was a lover of roses and as such, she had a Rose Garden. It's a beautiful garden, although unshaded for the most part, so bring a hat!
Behind the beautiful garden is the Ringling Mansion, with peculiar but neat looking statues greeting you at the entrance path.
They offer free tours of the house every 15 minutes, I highly recommend it, we had the best tour guide who was full of lots of information regarding the house, from the furniture to the ceilings. Also one thing to note, this home has a basement, in Florida, that's unheard of, truly.
The most fascinating portion for me was the ceiling, every room in the house had some kid of mural or unique decoration on the ceiling, I did more looking up than I did looking around!
This particular ceiling was painted as 25 different dances from around the world, all dancing to the same tune.
This ceiling isn't made of wood, it's a stain one of the workers created out of tobacco of all things.
The windows were even artistic as Mable chose multicolored panes throughout the house so when the sun was setting it would cast beautiful shapes and colors everywhere in the house. (Forgive me, I don't remember what kind of windows these are)
This chandelier used to hang in the original Waldorf-Historia in New York until they demolished the building to make way for the Empire State Building. Apparently, Mable used to tour the world and would collect different pieces, usually from buildings that were about to be torn down and she would pick up the furniture at auction. So her home really was filled with a cornucopia of different cultures.
The staircase in the house is made completely of marble, due to wear and tear though we could only walk on the right hand side of the staircase.
The tour guide said that John wanted these beds because he liked the crowns on top of the head board. In the 20's mind you, he spent $36,000 a PIECE for them, just because he liked the crown. Can you imagine what these are worth now? Insane!
Next we headed over to the Museum of Art, I don't have a lot of photos of the interior, as photography wasn't allowed in most rooms but the outside corridors and courtyard were just beautiful.
I was completely intrigued by this piece, her eyes are very piercing and encouraged me to look up more information on her. It is supposed to be Atropos of Greek Mythology, she was the oldest of the three fates, in charge of snipping the life line of the person when it was their time to die.
I also loved this piece but as my girls were getting antsy at this point, I didn't get to read up on it, so gorgeous though.
Overall we had a great time, one advice I'd give parents with children, start in the art museum first and end it with the circus, my girls attention span probably would have lasted longer had I done it that way. It's a great complex and you can easily spend an entire day there. If museums and history are your thing, you won't be disappointed.