Scala Arts & Heritage Publishers, Ltd.. November 2014. 64p. illus. ISBN 978-1-85759-913-8. $12.95.
In this generously-illustrated (more than 90 reproductions the majority of which are in color) publication, Berry (Assistant Director of Academic and Student Affairs, The Ringling; Ph.D, University of Oxford, UK) takes readers on a very brief introductory tour of The Ringling, a unique museum complex located in Sarasota, Florida, USA. Founded in 1911 by the circus impresario and one of the richest men in America, John Ringling (1866-1936), and his wife Mable (1875-1929) when they purchased 20 acres of waterfront land in the then small town of Sarasota, upon which they built their winter residence known as the Ca’ d’Zan (i.e. “House of John” in Venetian dialect), the Ringling grew during the 20th century into one of the largest university arts complexes in the United States. (p. 6) Today it is comprised of the Ringling mansion, the Ringling art museum showcasing the couple's art collection, a circus museum, an 18th century Italian theater, an education center, gardens, and many more attractions. It purports to offer visitors a growing list of wonders to see and enjoy including historic architecture, paintings, sculpture, decorative arts objects, circus memorabilia, and gardens. Interspersed with mostly reproductions and some accessible text, this book provides an extremely succinct overview of The Ringling and its many features. Designed as a souvenir intended to enhance visitors’ onsite experiences, it can be read in less than one hour and is recommended for museum visitors. Museum aficionados, professionals, students, scholars, and others should consult other publications, if they desire more detailed and scholarly information about The Ringling, its history, collections, and many attractions. Review copy. Availability: Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, Scala Art Publishers, Inc.