The New Sarasota Art Museum of Ringling College of Art + Design

A historic high school campus is reborn as a world-class museum of contemporary art near the heart of downtown Sarasota

Sarasota County adds another feather to its cap of impressive of visual arts attractions at the end of 2019: The Sarasota Art Museum of Ringling College of Art + Design.

Opening Dec. 14, 2019, the Sarasota Art Museum is a contemporary kunsthalle operating under the parent institution of the Ringling College of Art + Design; and anchors the Ringling College Museum Campus in Downtown Sarasota (1001 S Tamiami Trail).

The renovated space for the museum is an architectural marvel, blending a classic brick façade with a modern building and completely redesigned interior. The campus takes over the former Sarasota High School —a 60,000-square-foot 1926 Collegiate Gothic structure designed by M. Leo Elliott—as well as a 20,000-square-foot building by mid-century modern legend Paul Rudolph. This adaptive-reuse project was led by Lawson Group Architects. Terence Riley, principal of K/R, is the design architect of the museum.

Sarasota Art Museum Mission

"The Sarasota Museum of Art is a catalyst for appreciation and understanding of the art of our time. As a platform for exposure, education and experimentation, the Museum inspires new ideas and new ways of being through an endless rotation of transformative, relevant, and pioneering exhibitions and programs designed to elevate and empower all by cultivating discerning visual thinkers and ethical citizens."

The museum itself has 15,000 square feet of dedicated exhibition space in addition to numerous areas for to site specific and site-responsive art installations: a sculpture court, a great lawn for temporary sculptures, installation and performance programming, a 110-seat auditorium for educational events and performances, as well as a cafe and retail store.

Inaugural Program

The Museum will open with two exhibitions and several site-specific and-responsive installations:

  • The second-floor galleries will host a large-scale retrospective by Vik Muniz
  • The third-floor galleries will hold the first iteration of the Color. Theory. & B/W group exhibition
  • On the ground floor, the Museum unveils a permanent installation of Barbara Bank’s photographic portraits of the construction workers who built the museum.
  • In the Jan Schmidt Loggia, there is a site-responsive wall painting by Odili Donald Odita.
  • In the Marcy & Michael Klein Plaza, the sculpture courtyard between the Elliott and the Rudolph building, there will be sculptural installations, Jean Shin’s Celadon Landscape, and Zen Jail by JPW3 (J. Patrick Walsh Ill), as well as a site-responsive wall painting on the Rudolph façade by Olivier Mosset.
  • On the Great Lawn, there will be an installation of Héctor Esrawe and Ignacio Cadena’s Los Trompos.

Vik Muniz

Vik Muniz, A Bar at the Folies Bergère after Edouard Manet, from Pictures of Magazines 2, 2012 © Vik Muniz
Vik Muniz, A Bar at the Folies Bergère after Edouard Manet, from Pictures of Magazines 2, 2012 © Vik Muniz

“This survey of the imaginative Brazilian artist compiles over 100 of his photographs from all stages of his long career, including his most recent works. Co-organized with the Foundation for the Exhibition of Photography, the show will bring Muniz's work to Sarasota for the first time. Muniz’ brilliant practice engages viewers with intelligence, humor and a fair dose of art history. His work is essentially about the primary act of drawing, but his use of non-traditional materials brings attention to the way images are constructed, allowing the viewer to deconstruct fundamental methodologies of trompe l’oeil. In our era of AIgenerated “deep fake” videos, destabilized notions of truth and authenticity, and the deliberate undermining of reality, a citizen’s most valued asset is their visual literacy. Muniz’ work is fundamentally about empowering individuals by giving them the tools to make critical decisions about the world around them.”

Color. Theory. & B/W

Sheila Hicks, Questioning Column, 2016, installed in the Tower Gallery
Sheila Hicks, Questioning Column, 2016, installed in the Tower Gallery

“In establishing the curatorial vision of a new institution in a community where there is not historically been Modern or Contemporary art museum, the museum is mindful of its role in inspiring and educating new audiences. This reality, combined with the fact that the parent institution is an art and design college, led to a series of foundational exhibitions that explore topics of core and eternal relevance. This exhibition is the first iteration in an ongoing investigation into the art and science of color. In this version, we examine each artist’s particular use of color, with particular attention paid to the relationship between color and material.”

Worker Project

Barbara Banks, Lorenzo, The Worker Project, 2019
Barbara Banks, Lorenzo, The Worker Project, 2019

“This commissioned project by Barbara Banks, a Sarasota-based photographer who focuses on intimate portraiture around individuals and their craft, gives face to the workers involved in the adaptive re-use of the Museum. The Worker Project allows us to celebrate those who, like the artists in the galleries, used their craft to create the Museum. The photo portrait series is permanently installed in the south wing of the Museum auditorium entryway, to ensure that all those involved in helping bring this project to life will be remembered.”

Site-Specific Works

JPW3's Zen Jail, 2016
JPW3's Zen Jail, 2016

A variety of site-specific and site-responsive public works activate the Museum.

Jean Shin’s Celadon Landscape (2015) is a massive ceramic vessel constructed out of discarded fragments collected from kilns across Korea to comment on cultural heritage in the era of globalism.

JPW3’s Zen Jail (2016) is half-Japanese tea house and half-jail, striking an uneasy balance between peace and violence.

In the Jan Schmidt Loggia, there is a site-responsive wall painting by Odili Donald Odita.

Leah Rosenberg has created a site-specific wall painting installation that begins in the Morganroth Reception, moves into the Wendy G. Surkis & Peppi Elona Lobby and then winds up the Mary Ann & John Meyer vertical gallery, leading to the Color. Theory & B/W exhibition on the 3rd floor.

In the Jonathan McCague Arcade is Christian Sampson’s installation Vita in Motu, which uses the building’s architecture, and the movement of the earth, as a collaborative partner in this ever changing light show, activated by the rising sun. 

Public Engagement & Educational Programming

In addition to programming designed to interpret, illuminate and contextualize the art in the galleries, the Museum will present a wide range of non-exhibition related programming to meet its mission of cultivating discerning visual thinkers and ethical citizens.

With all of its programming and exhibitions, the Sarasota Art Museum strives to welcome all audiences, regardless of previous knowledge or experience with contemporary art. The museum aims for the highest intellectual and scholarly rigor in their exhibitions, while ensuring that all find a familiar point of entry, in hopes that all are met with transformative experiences.