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By William True | Broker in Sarasota County, FL

NEW MURAL AT RINGLING REFLECTS CIRCUS AND SARASOTA HISTORY

NEW MURAL AT RINGLING REFLECTS CIRCUS AND SARASOTA HISTORY

Recently acquired by the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, The Greatest Show on Earth is a dramatic, remarkable, 2-story mural that glorifies and celebrates the performers and excitement of the American circus. At 42 by 22 feet, The Greatest Show on Earth is the largest art item at the Ringling and one of the most impressive murals anywhere. Lions, tigers, elephants, and circus performers are portrayed in action. To say The Greatest Show on Earth is visually vibrant is an understatement. There’s a dynamic sense of movement. Viewers may even recognize beloved clown Lou Jacobs and lion-tamer Gunther Gebel-Williams.


The story behind the mural is almost as captivating as the remarkable work itself. Feld Entertainment, owners of Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus, sought out artist William Woodward to create the mural for their Virginia headquarters in 1989. Woodward has been a recipient of other mural commissions, including one at Thomas Jefferson's Monticello and another at the Lincoln Memorial, but
The Greatest Show on Earth would be his most ambitious challenge. As part of Feld’s recent corporate relocation to Ellenton, the mural was donated to the Ringling and unveiled in the Tibbals Learning Center, the section of the Ringling dedicated to circus history, in January.


The Tibbals Learning Center at the Ringling Museum features circus history and art items including posters, rare handbills, and wardrobe items dating back to the early 1800s. Additionally, the Tibbals Learning Center is the setting for the world's largest miniature circus, The Howard Brothers Circus Model, a miniature reproduction of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus as it looked in the early 20
th century. Philanthropist Howard Tibbals, for whom the Tibbals Learning Center is named, crafted the tiny circus.

The Greatest Show on Earth is on permanent display at the Tibbals Learning Center at the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, 5401 Bay Shore Road in Sarasota. The Museum is open every day (except Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Day) from 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m., and Thursdays from 10:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. (with discounted admissions after 5:00 p.m.). Standard admission is $25 for adults, $20 for seniors, and $5 for youths 6 to 17. Group discounts are available. The Ringling Museum of Art is always entirely handicapped-accessible and family-friendly, but no pets are allowed (except for service companion animals). Free parking, including disabled parking, is always available.

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