Where Inspiration and Artistic Expression Meet

Lynn Hobeck Bates, APR  |  Communications  Manager
941-955-0991 Ext. 103

The Ringling Estate: History, Architecture, Art & Theater

  • John and his wife Mable built and designed their winter home, Cà d’Zan (“House of John”), to resemble a Venetian Gothic palace. The mansion was completed in 1926 at a cost of $1.5 million.
  • When John Ringling died in 1936, he bequeathed the estate, including the mansion and art collection, to the state of Florida. The Ringling Museum of Art currently contains more than 600 Baroque masterpieces and includes a Peter Paul Rubens collection that is considered the finest in the world.
  • Also on the grounds of the estate is the Historic Asolo Theater, an 18th-century playhouse originally constructed in Asolo, Italy, that Ringling dismantled and brought to his Sarasota estate in the 1950s. 
  • The Center for Asian Art houses a collection of permanent and rotating exhibitions. 

Performing Arts

Sarasota maintains multiple professional theater companies and community theaters that have been in the area for more than half a century. 

  • Professional venues and companies include :
    • Florida Studio Theatre, downtown’s contemporary theater. www.floridastudiotheatre.org
    • Asolo Repertory Theatre, the largest professional not-for-profit theater in the U.S. south of Atlanta. www.asolo.org
    • Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe of Florida, founded in December of 1999 in Sarasota. www.wbttsrq.org.
    • Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, presenting national tours in its iconic lavender colored building. www.vanwezel.org
    • The Players Centre has been presenting amateur theater since 1936.  www.theplayers.org
    • Venice Theatre has been in business since 1950 and is the third largest community theater in the country. www.venicestage.com
    • Lemon Bay Playhouse is Englewood’s only community theater. www.LemonBayPlayhouse.com
    • The Sarasota Ballet celebrated their 25th anniversary in 2016. As Florida Gulf Coast’s first and only professional ballet company, the company is currently under the direction of Director Iain Webb, and the company presents seven productions. www.sarasotaballet.org


  • The Sarasota Orchestra, founded in 1949, presents more than 100 classical, pops, and family concerts each year. Each summer the orchestra's Sarasota Music Festival brings together talented international student musicians.  www.sarasotaorchestra.org
  • Artist Series Concerts of Sarasota brings the finest classical musicians to Sarasota from October to June.  www.artistseriesconcerts.org
  • The Sarasota Opera House is one of only a few in the U.S. to own its own house. In 2016, the company completed the Verdi Cycle, producing the entire works of Giuseppe Verdi. www.sarasotaopera.org
  • La Musica di Asolo is an annual chamber music festival under the direction of Bruno Giuranna. www.lamusicafestival.org
  • The Jazz Club of Sarasota hosts an annual festival every April.  www.jazzclubsarasota.org
  • The Venice Symphony offers performances by internationally-acclaimed artists in the new Venice Performing Arts Center. www.thevenicesymphony.org

Visual Art Scene

The Sarasota School of Architecture adds a modern flair to the tropical oasis. “Sarasota Modern” is characterized by stark lines, large sunshades, oversized sliding glass doors, and floor-to-ceiling jalousie windows.  

  • Sarasota Museum of Modern Art is slated to open in 2018 in the former, historic Sarasota High School. www.ringling.edu
  • Ringling College of Art + Design is one of the nation’s leading colleges for animation with many graduates winning Academy awards for their craft. www.ringling.edu
  • Longboat Key Center for the Arts, Englewood Art Center, and Art Center Sarasota provide classes and workshops for visitors who wish to explore their own creativity. www.ringling.edu
  • The Towles Court artist colony houses a dozen professional artists, studios, galleries, shops, and restaurants. www.towlescourt.com 
  • Venice’s Clyde Butcher Art Gallery & Studio showcases a collection of the renowned photographer’s black and white photographs of Florida’s natural landscape as well as Butcher’s hand-crafted equipment.  www.clydebutcher.com
  • Art galleries can be found throughout Sarasota County including Art Center Sarasota, Art Uptown, Northport Art Center, Selby Gallery, State of The Arts Gallery, and the Venice Art Center.
  • The Ringling International Arts Festival (RIAF) is a multi-day festival of theater, visual art, music, and dance held each October at The Ringling Museum. www.ringling.org
  • The Sarasota Film Festival takes place in April and hosts more than 200 national and international films along with education programs, special events, talk-backs, and panels featuring some of the leading voices in film. www.sarasotafilmfestival.com

For more information, call Visit Sarasota County© at 800-522-9799 or visit visitsarasota.com, as well as VisitSarasotaArts.org.