Located on a 66-acre estate on Sarasota Bay, The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art was established in 1927 as the legacy of John Ringling (1866-1936) and his wife, Mable (1875 to 1929). Recognized as the official State Art Museum of Florida, the Museum of Art offers 21 galleries of European paintings as well as Cypriot antiquities, Asian Art, American paintings, and contemporary art. The estate features the spectacular Cŗ d'Zan ("House of John"), a waterfront mansion that was restored in 2002. The Circus Museum displays costumes, wagons, performance equipment, and other artifacts chronicling the history of the Circus. The estate also features Mable Ringlingís Rose Garden, completed in 1913, and beautifully landscaped grounds overlooking Sarasota Bay.

The Museum offers numerous cultural and educational programs, including courtyard concerts, "Third Thursday" socials on Cŗ díZan's terrace, lectures, workshops, childrenís programs, teacher training sessions, and public tours. The Museum also houses an art conservation laboratory, a 65,000 volume art library, and archives. Beginning in January, 2006, a series of new buildings will open, which includes the Circus Museum's Tibbals Learning Center celebrating the Circus, a Visitors Pavilion featuring the reinstalled Asolo Theater, new art galleries, and an education center.

Included on the estate are the Banyan Cafť, two gift shops, and the acres of parkland and gardens with Banyan and palm trees among the wide variety of native and exotic plant materials.

In 2000, the Museumís governance was transferred from Floridaís Department of State to Florida State University, making it the largest university museum complex in the nation.