A Visit to the Ringling Museum of Art

the miniature circus at ringling museum
Mom, Dad and I look in amazement at the miniature circus

Last Friday was an exciting, fun day, one for the memory books indeed! It was a vacation day in between our show openings, and we enjoyed it, along with my parents, while visiting the beautiful Ringling Museum of Art. What a truly amazing place it is, it’s like the Disney World of the art world. We arrived there at 10 that morning, and spent the entire day taking in all of the magnificent beauty which surrounds you there! First we visited the Circus Museum, which features the cornerstone of the Circus Museum’s Tibbals Learning Center, that being the world’s largest miniature circus, The Howard Bros. Circus Model. This model is a replica of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus from 1919 – 1938. Master model builder and philanthropist, Howard Tibbals, created it over a period of fifty plus years. It really gave a sense of awe as to the unbelievable size of the operation and set up of this traveling circus. “Wow” left our lips numerous times as we walked by admiring this amazing creation, and realized the work that went into putting on each and every one of these “Greatest Shows on Earth!” From there we wound our way into the other rooms of the vast museum and gave our best efforts at walking a tight rope, riding on the back of a “plastic” horse, and shooting sponge canons, among other things of great interest. I must say that I now have even more admiration for those who do acrobatic feats on the high wire! Especially since mine was mere inches off of the ground, and I was not doing back flips, and still found it somewhat difficult to stay balanced! To top it all off we were there at just the right time to see a pre-unveiling of the stunning mural titled “Greatest Show on Earth”.  The mural is 42 feet long by 22 feet high, and it showcases 45 performers, 12 elephants, 11 tigers and a unicorn plus seven banners!

the bandwagon from the ringling circus
Dad, me and Mom in front of an original bandwagon belonging to the circus
walking the wire at ringling circus museum
From the looks of me, you’d never know it was mere inches off the floor!
ringling brothers circus poster
Wes and Dad make a swell looking circus poster!

From there we wandered through a section of the lush gardens, finding ourselves arriving at the Ringling Museum of Art, and were amazed and inspired from the moment we entered the stunning museum until the minute we left! Each room showcased truly gorgeous works of art, with many of them taking up most of an entire wall with their enormous size! As a miniature artist, I always find these grand-sized works unbelievable and I myself, simply cannot imagine painting one on this scale! As we walked around, my parents were taken back with the beauty of it all, as were Wes and I too, along with being inspired to paint . . . paint . . . paint! I was simply thrilled to be able to share this wondrous experience with my parents, especially since it was their first visit to an art museum of this size and stately stature. Each room seemed more impressive and magical than the last, as we slowly made our way through the museum admiring the numerous paintings and the stunning architecture of the building. I couldn’t pick a favorite painting, as there were too many vying for the same title! Leaving the museum behind, we walked out onto the balcony and enjoyed a bird’s eye view of the magnificent courtyard below, with sculptures carefully placed about, surrounded by plantings, with many of them being stunning bougainvillaeas, in hot pink hues no less! In the middle of the courtyard was a life-size statue replica of Michelanglo’s “David”. It was amazing to see how grand this sculpture is in real life, and once again I could not comprehend creating something on this large scale!

painting in the ringling art museum
Mom, Dad and I admire one of the grand, beautiful paintings in the museum
A wonderful collection of wax miniatures

photo of the courtyard at the ringling museum of art
The gorgeous courtyard adjacent to the Ringling Museum of Art
statue of david photo
Mom and I decide that’s surely the biggest derriere we’ve ever seen!

Leaving the magnificent art museum, we walked through the formal rose gardens and between the wide spreading towers created by the numerous Banyan Trees, as we made our way to the home of the Ringlings’ known as the Ca’ d’Zan Mansion. This palatial, American mansion reflects the splendor and romance of Italy. Described as “the last of the Gilded Age mansions” to be built in America, Ca’ d’Zan has 56 amazing rooms filled with original art and furnishings, and one cannot help but to imagine how splendid attending one of their numerous dinner parties would have been! It was most impressive from the outside before we even entered the large front doors, leading you inside where you are at once surrounded by lavish furnishings and extremely ornate architecture. The ceiling comprised of several lovely paintings, in the main room, all surrounding a chandelier, making it a most stunning focal point. Each room held surprises as we entered them with sheer wonder, and we simply could not imagine living in such a place. Leaving the interior, we made our way out onto the veranda overlooking the water, which served up a spectacular view. There we decided to sit for a while and just enjoy this pleasant vista.

the Ca' d'Zan Mansion
The palatial palace known as the Ca’ d’Zan Mansion
the Ca' d'Zan Mansion
The stunning ceiling in the main room
the Ca' d'Zan Mansion
Mom and Dad enjoy a dance in the ball room
photo of the ringling's home
Mom, Dad and I on the lovely veranda overlooking the water

By this time, it was getting close to closing time for the museum, so we walked back once again through the formal rose gardens, where we spent the remainder of our time, enjoying a relaxing stroll through the delightful, fragrant garden. As we walked along admiring each and every bush proudly displaying it’s own variation of colorful and fragrant blooms, we had to stop and smell each variety, and had alas decided by the end, that we were sure the most fragrant of them all was a rose named after an English lady, whose name I unfortunately cannot remember. I love to smell flowers, especially strong, fragrant roses, and could’ve spent several more hours doing just that very thing . . . smelling the time away! That evening we left the museum with many wonderful memories and finished our fun filled day with a delicious dinner at a nearby seafood restaurant.

Mable Ringling’s Rose Garden
The center of the formal rose garden
banyan tree photo
That’s me . . . the tiny person in the middle of those magnificent trees!
Mable Ringling’s Rose Garden
Mable Ringling’s Rose Garden

Saturday afternoon, after the opening of the MASF show, we spent at the Sponge Docks in Tarpon Springs. Unfortunately, there was an art and crafts show taking place, which brought in thousands of people, causing the area to be much more populated than normal. Nonetheless, we decided to stick with our original plans, and ate lunch at an authentic Greek restaurant. After being told by one of the obviously overly-worked cooks “That we were sure gonna be waitin’ a long time!”, we decided to go for it anyway. Well, he was right, it was a long time, almost an hour or more passed before we were finally brought our food, however, it was yummy, and I thoroughly enjoyed my veggie gyro! Leaving the noise and bustling activity of the small restaurant, we enjoyed walking along the sponge docks, while soaking up the warmth of the sun. We went into several of the small shops to look around, where my parents bought some sponges for my niece and nephew, which made for really cool souvenirs. We spent the next hour or so, relaxing and walking around looking, while getting plenty of photos of the seabirds and the numerous sponge boats docked there, which will make for some great future miniature paintings!

spnge docks in tarpon springs
Mom, Dad and I in front of one of the sponge boats docked there

photo of pelicans on a dock
I found this a most amusing sight . . . all of the Pelicans lounging around on the dock posted with a no trespassing sign!

Thankfully we arrived home from the show on the coast just in time Sunday night to see “Dowtown Abbey”, one of my mom’s and my favorite shows! Monday morning was spent unpacking, and repacking for our return trip home on Tuesday. Later on, we all met my dad for lunch in town and then spent the afternoon playing with the kids. Later that afternoon Wes and I along with the kids met my brother Marshall at the trailhead for nearby Grassy Island Trail. From there we enjoyed a quiet relaxing walk around the wooded trial, while we helped put up signs distinguishing the bike trails from the horse riding trails. The kids were most pleased to be able to help their dad in screwing the signs into place! Together that evening, we all enjoyed a supper consisting of my homemade baked Ziti, at my parents home. The next morning it was time for goodbyes, when my mom and sister drove us to the airport in Orlando. Once again we brought home lots of great memories!

kids swinging
Even Nemo gets in on the swinging action with Uncle Wes and the kids!

sunset at grassy island trail
A gorgeous sunset at Grassy Island Trail

Fresh off the easel: This week I finished the portrait miniature of my family’s little dog, Dixie.  She is my favorite little dog and I’m simply nuts about her!  I love carrying her around in my arms when we’re at my parents home, and she loves it as much as I do!  I spoil her rotten, and have a ball doing so.  I also “steal” her from my dad at night, and let her lay and sleep on my lap while we all watch T.V.  That is my sister Hayley, in her boots, standing behind sweet Dixie.  Wes finished his miniature painting of a beautiful Blue Heron this past week as well, that we photographed during our trip to the Sea of Cortez.

dog painting from photo
“Lil’ Southern Cowgirl” by Rachelle
2½ x 2½ inches

miniature painting of  a blue heron
“Blue on Blue” by Wes
3½ x 2½ inches

Come See Our Paintings This Week:

Siegrist Solo Exhibition at the Yellow House Gallery, Sebring, FL

Until February 2nd


Until March 10th

38th International Miniature Art Show (MASF) at the Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art, Tarpon Springs, FL

Until February 10th

To view all our upcoming exhibits: http://www.artofwildlife.com/exhibitschedule.html


 Have a loved one or a beloved pet you would like captured in miniature? Contact and commission us!

Don’t forget to “Sign Up” to receive an email each time I update the blog!

Until next time ~ Rachelle


4 thoughts on “A Visit to the Ringling Museum of Art

  1. Bill mundy

    Hi Rachelle and Wes
    Loved your description of your day at Ringling – and your photos. Wish we had spent more time there but I wasn’t feeling too well. But what we saw was magnificent. It’s now Monday and our third day in Las Vegas. Not our favourite city but we are managing to brave the smoke- filled casinos where we can, but it is impossible go anywhere without passing through them. They sure have got it all worked out. Although my cold is still s real nuisance I’ve managed to write 5 blogs so far on this holiday.
    Love from Bill and Claire x

    1. Hi Bill and Claire,
      I’m so glad that you enjoyed my written experience of our wonderful day at Ringling! However, I’m so sorry that you weren’t feeling well, when you were there. Perhaps you can visit there again someday when your feeling your best, and enjoy it to the fullest! That’s really a shame that your stay in Las Vegas hasn’t been very pleasant. I’ve enjoyed reading all of your blogs, and must admit that the most interesting part of your Las Vegas visit was the little quaint village 7 miles out. That is much more Wes’ and my “cup of tea” 🙂 Will you be going to visit the Grande Canyon soon? That should be a most delightful experience for you both, and I so hope your are completely well by then!! I’ll be waiting to see your posts from your visit to the Grande Canyon!
      Love and Hugs,

  2. Bill mundy

    Hi Wes and Rachelle
    A belated happy birthday Wes. Yes we prefer the rustic side of Las Vegas for sure. The Grand Canyon is mind-blowing. Really magnificent. You must see it sometime. My cold still persists but we go home later today. Love from us both x

    1. Hi Bill and Claire,
      Wes says thank you for the birthday wish! I love the photo of you with the Grand Canyon in the background, it looks absolutely stunning!!! I know you must surely be enjoying your visit there! It is definitely on our list pf places to visit someday! I so hope that your cold improves greatly before your flight home later! I wish you both safe travels and a return of health.
      Love and hugs 🙂

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