The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art

By staff February 7, 2007


 The new Searing Wing is spectacular.


By Kay Kipling


With the opening of the new 20,000-square foot Searing Wing at the Ringling Museum, along with two brand-new exhibitions on display within, I can only give you a brief glimpse of everything there is to see there. Bottom line is, you have to go and see it for yourself.

That said, here’s a little information about the wing, which just opened officially on Feb. 3. Designed by Yann Weymouth of Tampa-based architectural firm HOK, the new space adds logically to the present museum, with an arcade extending the original northern loggia and a balustrade above like the original structure of the museum as well. Inside, the space is equipped with state-of-the-art climate controls, lighting and security, along with beautiful bamboo and white oak floors; and it’s able to change shape and look when needed to accommodate different sorts of shows.

 A small pocket gallery allows for highlighting just two or three special works of art (right now, those works are the Ringling’s Frans Hals’ Portrait of Pieter Jacobsz Olycan and a portrait of Olycan’s wife on loan from Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum, the two paintings joined together for the first time in decades). There’s also a small room giving us just a teaser look at jades and Asian porcelain pieces from the museum’s collection; a new Asian wing to house a larger exhibition of these works is coming up in the future.

The two major exhibitions on display offer good insight into the types of traveling shows the Ringling can plan for its new spaces. The first, Encouraging American Genius: Master Paintings from the Corcoran Gallery of Art, is quite a comprehensive look at the subject of American painting as it developed from Colonial days. You’ll see such iconic works as one of Gilbert Stuart’s many portraits of George Washington, along with landscapes by Albert Bierstadt and Thomas Hart Benton, portraits by John Singer Sargent and Mary Cassatt, Winslow Homer’s A Light on the Sea, Edward Hopper’s Groundswell, and many, many more examples of how American painters developed over a period of 150 years. It’s really the kind of show you might want to visit more than once to take it all in. (It continues through April 29.)

On a smaller, easier to absorb—but no less intriguing—scale, Bedazzled: 5,000 Years of Jewelry from the Walters Art Museum invites you to get up close to the display cases to examine the details of rings, bracelets, necklaces and other adornments dating from ancient Greece and Rome and continuing through the Renaissance and even into the early 20th century (the latter most notably in the form of a Tiffany corsage shaped like an iris and set with 139 Montana sapphires). It’s fascinating to observe the ways in which the making and the use of jewelry have both changed and remained the same over centuries; this exhibit continues through May 27.

For more info call 359-5700 or visit the museum’s Web site at





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