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In the 20s Florida was more or less split up by half a dozen guys with boat loads of money who wanted to coax other rich people to move down to their chunk of Florida around the time they started getting rid of malaria here but before air conditioning was invented. Then these guys tended to donate their mansions and art hordes from bored European shopping trips to the state around the time the great depression gave them tax bills needing to be paid.
The guy in Sarasota was John Ringling of the Ringling circus. There used to be a cool Ringling Towers hotel downtown that as a teenager you'd be dared to sneak into but they tore it down to make shitty office buildings overlooking that god awful old-people-pandering statue by the marina. Sarasota is pretty but it's snootyness and their outlawing homeless people are ugly so sorry about the chip on my shoulder here. Back to the museum...
So what you have here is an art museum, a mansion on the water, and I think a clown museum with some walking paths between them. It shares a parking lot with the Aslo theater (they do Shakespeare plays) and is walking distance from New College campus. Go to a graduation - it's tradition to do it naked.
The art museum can have touring exhibits and I think they have a Duchamp painting but the collection is basically pre-impressionist European art. So for the most part portraits of dead rich people, religious paintings, paintings of Greek tragedy - that kind of thing. I'm more of a post-impressionist fan but I recognize some names. The only paining that I recognize by sight is a couple massively massive Rubens painting.
I'm in the area fairly often and I suppose I find a reason to stop every few years if that tells you anything about the worthiness of going. Prepare yourself for the squeakiest wooden floors you've ever heard in a museum and being constantly watched by elderly male docents in blazers.
The St.Pete Museum of Art in St.Pete is also a pretty nice museum in the area - it is more modern than this though pretty eclectic.
There actually are some birds to see in the ponds here - don't forget to check that out!
The mansion I don't think is all that exciting but if you like touring mansions I'm sure it's fine.
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