Are you looking to for a fun, educational activity that you or the entire family can enjoy? There are several Sarasota museums that highlight either the arts, sciences, or some of the region's great history. You'lll feel like a real whiz after spending a few hours in one of these facilities on our comprehensive list of the museums in Sarasota.
The contributions of John and Mable Ringling can be felt throughout Sarasota, but their legacy is most prominent at The Ringling. This estate was originally willed to the State of Florida in 1936 and has blossomed into a top art museum.
There are over 10,000 objects in the collection with 21 galleries of European paintings. The Ringling also holds significant pieces of Asian, American, and contemporary art.
Related content: The Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota
One specific part of The Ringling complex that deserves its own mention is the Ringling Circus Museum. This is the country's preeminent place to learn about the history of the circus, and there are many historic documents and props housed here.
There is a 44,000-piece recreation of what the Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus looked like through the 1920s and 1930s. The museum also has interactive exhibits that allow visitors to feel what it's like to walk the tightrope or squeeze into a clown car.
The Ringling is not the only source of art education in Sarasota. The Sarasota Museum of Art has an extensive collection of modern and contemporary art from the 20th and 21st centuries.
The Ringling College of Art and Design runs the facility, which used to be Sarasota High School before undergoing extensive renovations. It now features world-class gallery spaces, an auditorium, an outdoor sculpture garden, and work spaces all dedicated to deepening the public's appreciation for contemporary art.
If offbeat pieces of art are more your thing, then you should check out the Marietta Museum of Art & Whimsy. This building features paintings, sculptures, and mixed media creations from over 85 artists.
Most of the artists showcased are American, but there are also works from Korean, Peruvian, Haitian, and Canadian artists. This museum is typically open seasonally and only on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays in the afternoon, so check ahead to make sure you can look around.
The Sarasota Classic Car Museum is the second-oldest continuously operating antique car museum in the United States. They have a rotating exhibit of over 75 cars from around the world.
Some of the more unique items in the collection include John Lennon's 1965 Mercedes Benz, Paul McCartney's Mini Cooper, and John and Mable Ringling's collection of Rolls Royces. They also have a model of Abraham Lincoln's funeral carriage!
The Crowley Museum & Nature Center transports you back in time to see what Old Florida was really like. Get a chance to check out artifacts while touring the on-site museum, pioneer cabin, blacksmith shop, and working sugar cane mill.
The Nature Center is highlighted by a half-mile boardwalk that shows visitors to five distinct Florida habitats. The Children's Discovery Path teaches kids about native animals, birds, and insects, giving them a greater appreciation for their surroundings.
This Natural History Museum is focused on the history of Florida's Gulf Coast. The exhibits specialize in Florida history from prehistoric times to the present.
Highlights include fossil evidence of Florida’s earliest mammals and marine species, a collection of prehistoric and early post-contact archeological artifacts, and an exhibit that focuses on Florida’s ecology and biodiversity in the Pine Uplands and Riverine Galleries.
The Art Center in Sarasota is a community art center that includes four rotating exhibition galleries and a sculpture garden. It is member-funded and offers adult and youth classes, workshops, and programs. So if you have little artists running around, sign them up for a class at Art Center Sarasota.
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Take the whole family out to one of these great Sarasota museums and learn something new. Let us know in the comments what you thought about the experience!
Cover photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons