Glory's Garden

All the world's a garden, you know, and we are mere flowers within it. Come, I'll show you!

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My Peeps!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Sarasota's best kept secret

Do you know Sarasota's best kept secret? Do you know Sarasota is in Florida? Well, then let's start there. It certainly is in Florida and we went there one day the last time we were in Florida*. Sarasota is just a day trip--according to Tommy's day trip monitor-- from Punta Gorda where our time share is.

Tom likes to pick timeshare locations which have access to other interesting places--meaning near by day trips. Punta Gorda in one of those. Orlando is another, but it has become so commercialized and over crowded that it's just not as much fun for us as it used to be when we first starting going there.  If it wasn't for Justin's love of Disney World and our love of watching Justin's face light up when he's at Disney, we might say a permanent good bye to Orlando.

Punta Gorda is now our favorite. From there we went to Sarasota, just to see what was there. You'll never guess what we found. Well, it was actually Tommy who saw an advertisement for a free day at the Ringling Brothers' Museum and he said we should go.

Art and Music together? Wow!
Now I don't know about you, but the idea of a circus museum didn't hold the least bit of interest for me. Tom was insistent though. Isn't he always? Yes, he is and so we went. Needless to say, I wasn't enthused. I mean to say, what could possibly be at a circus museum to interest a person who never has been to a circus and never wished to?

Boy-o-boy, was I surprised! There is indeed a circus museum, but that wasn't where we went. You see, this John Ringling--wealthy as all get out back in the day-- was  a bit of an art collector. Supposedly he started collecting art just to improve his standing in high society who had looked its prissy little nose at him for HOW he earned his wealth--circus freaks and tigers jumping through fiery hoops wasn't good enough for them I suppose.
Ringling Art Museum

But being the man had money, knew how to use it and wasn't in the least bit afraid to spend it, he created a wonderful complex of buildings for the arts. This included his mansion, a theater where plays and concerts are held, a botanical garden, a museum of art and an actual circus museum. All this bordering the water... A fabulous spot!

Michaelangelo's David, a bronze cast from the original in Italy

Although John Ringling died broke and actually owing money, he left a wonderful legacy to the city of Sarasota and its inhabitants; all these building for their use and enjoyment for those wishing to visit this quaint and lovely city.  His art collection is to be coveted, but not just by those with the funds to view them. He--bless his extravagant heart-- stipulated that one day a week the museum would be free to the public. That would be Mondays in case you ever get anywhere near Sarasota.
The building itself is extraordinary. The sculpture garden is beautiful, but once you step inside....

...that is where the breath-taking magic happens. What a collection that boosting, blusterous showman philanthropist gathered for himself. He surely did know how to put on a show even with just paintings, tapestries, columns and the occasional whole room.  What the heck does that mean?

Even the building is a work of art
Well, it seems he was a pioneer in recycling and knew when something needed to be saved from ruin--even buildings-- and that included one particular room from a house scheduled for destruction to make room for the Empire State building. It was in a mansion owned by a friend of the Ringlings and he bought the whole thing; tapestries, walls, chandeliers, windows, casements, ceiling, paneling... actually the entire room!

We took a guided tour and the wonderful woman told us this and much more. She did an extraordinary job of showing the high points, but she only scratched the surface.

Tom looked to me and said, "We could come every day for a month and still not see everything here."

Well, now that we know of Sarasota's best kept secret, we will make certain we come back often.

*Don't know if you noticed but, Tom and I went to Florida three times in ~five weeks, twice for business, once for fun. You'd think we'd be sick of the place.


  1. Wow, nice! Nice place to visit! That's the next vacation..after we win the Powerball, of course..


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