Ringling Museum

Order, imagination and technology at the new Ringling Museum

After rebuilding work lasting ten years and costing $20 million, the Ringling Museum has been reopened to the public.

Sarasota (Florida)

Visitors had a chance to sample the new arrangements in February, with the reopening of the north wing, housing Italian and Flemish Renaissance and baroque art. Also open were the rooms containing Rubens’ great cartoons executed in 1625 on the theme of “The Triumph of the Eucharist” for tapestries commissioned by Isabella of Habsburg. Innovations include an up-to-date air-conditioning system, and a complete catalogue of the exhibits which number more than 10,000 and include 600 European paintings, most of which were not previously on show. The reorganisation is characterised, in the words of New York Times critic John Russell, by “order, lucidity, imagination and technology”. The basis of this impressive collection was built up in the 1920s and 1930s through the efforts of John Ringling who died in 1936. His special interests were seventeenth-century Flemish and Italian art. In addition to the Rubens cartoons he acquired from the Duke of Westminster in 1926, Ringling also collected paintings by Titian, Caravaggio, Velázquez (“Portrait of Philip V”), Guercino, Vouet (“Mars and Venus”) and Pietro da Cortona (“Hagar with the Angel”).

Appeared in The Art Newspaper Archive, 6 March 1991