The Ringling

The Ringling


The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art (The Ringling) is proud to offer all school programs free of charge. Located on 66-acres along Sarasota Bay, there is so much to discover at your museum! Circus owners John and Mable Ringling built their Mediterranean Revival mansion, Ca’ d’Zan in the 1920s, and had a vision of bringing art and culture to Florida’s Suncoast. Mr. and Mrs. Ringling expanded their vision to include a Museum of Art housing their extensive European Baroque art collection. After Mr. Ringling’s death in 1936, The Ringling passed to the state of Florida becoming the official art museum of Florida.  Since John and Mable’s time, The Ringling has become a large museum complex including stunning grounds and gardens with level-II arboretum status, a Circus Museum which explores the exciting history of the American Circus, the Historic Asolo Theatre with a robust performing arts program, the historic Ca’ d’Zan which explores Florida’s land boom of the 1920s, and the Museum of Art featuring diverse collections of European Art, Asian Art, Contemporary Art, Glass, and Photography.


All school programs at The Ringling are completely FREE. With in-person tours and virtual programs, there are many ways to infuse the magic of The Ringling into your curriculum.

Teacher-Led Visit

Bring your students to The Ringling and use the museum as your classroom for the day! This program provides free admission to visiting classrooms, and supports teacher-led exploration with teacher guides, student workbooks, resources, and more! Teacher-led visits are available year-round and require two week’s notice to book.

Virtual Tours

Bring The Ringling directly into your classroom with virtual tours! Our virtual tour program can either be slide based, offering students the opportunity to engage with artworks in great detail, or virtually exploring the galleries themselves. Virtual tours are led by an experienced museum educator and provide facilitated opportunities for art making, dialogue, and games.

Homeschool Third Thursday

Our state of the art homeschool program is back in-person! Ideal for homeschooling families and small groups, join The Ringling on the third Thursday of every month (Sep – May, no program in Dec) to explore a different facet of the museum. Designed for multi-generational learning, Homeschool Third Thursday participants rotate through stations in the museum and try new art making techniques.

Bus Scholarships

Bus scholarships are available! School programs at The Ringling include FREE admission, but we know bus funding is still a barrier for many schools. Apply for a bus scholarship to offset the transportation costs of visiting The Ringling. Priority is given to Title 1 schools. For more information and to apply online, visit Bus Scholarships | The Ringling.

Visit The Ringling Welcomes Students for K-12 and College Visits for more information about our FREE school programs!

The Ringling also offers teacher workshops for CEU credit! Visit Professional Development | The Ringling for this year’s hands-on workshop lineup.



941-359-5700 ext.3710

Sam Gilliam: Improvisation, Gr. 3-5- Virtual!

Program description

On this FREE 45-minute interactive tour with The Ringling for grades 3-5, students will learn about abstract artist Sam Gilliam, practice improvisation, and discuss the artistic movements that complemented the Civil Rights Movement. Students will listen to jazz greats Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and Thelonious Monk as they critically examine Gilliam’s abstract work, discussing how both musicians and visual artists practice improvisation. Gilliam himself listened to these same artists as he worked, and students will try their hand at improvisation, listening to jazz while making abstract drawings all their own.

This tour introduces students to improvisation in both jazz and visual art through the exhibition Sam Gilliam: Selections on view at The Ringling through May 2021. We will closely examine three works of art from the exhibition while listening to jazz music. Students will discuss both the historical context for these works of art as well as analyze the technical elements of improvisation and spontaneity.

Booking / scheduling contact

Katie Nickel


Program detail
Artistic discipline:
Cultural Origin: Array, Array
Program type: Online Virtual Exploration
Population served: 3-5
Subject: Music, Social Studies, Visual Art
Bilingual: No

Virtual Exploration Only


Is transportation needed for this exploration?: No
If Yes, who arranges transportation?: Other (see description)
Is financial assistance offered?: Yes

Program info

Summer or Family Programs Offered?: yes