Monday October 30, 2017 | by Joseph Modica

Ringling museum set to unveil new glass pavilion that will house glass-art collection

Early next year, the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota, Florida, will reveal a new contemporary-glass pavilion to showcase their expanded glass collection. The Kotler-Coville glass pavilion will the entrance to a 5,500-square-foot space that serves two purposes: as the entrance of their new Studio Glass museum wing dedicated to international glass art and as the entrance and gathering space for the historic theater the museum also houses. The opening event is slated for January 22, 2018.

The museum, named after founder, circus tycoon and arts enthusiast, John Ringling and his wife, is a 66-acre institution overlooking Sarasota Bay. The newly built pavilion will house a 45-piece collection of international glass artists with the center piece Sideboard with Blue China, a 25 feet-long by 9 feet-high glass and wood bureau by artist Beth Lipman said executive director Steven High in a phone interview with Glass Quarterly’s Hot Sheet. The pavilion’s façade is comprised of light-controlled aluminum fins inspired by the wind, water and sand, the main elements of glass.

The new collection and pavilion is a bid to bring prominence to the medium of glass which has been making a comeback since the last half of the 20th century. “There are a number of works that we are adding to our collection to add to the dialogue on contemporary glass” said High. “[as] part of the movement of glass.” The pavilion will be also be used for education in glass and for other events, as part of their vision for it and will rotate out exhibits periodically.

In recent years, the museum began making strides to emphasize and feature modern pieces from living artists, a turnaround from John Ringling’s affinity for the historical giants like Rembrandt and Van Dyke. The museum began a program called “Art of Our Time” and began hosting galleries, performances and classes with the goal of modern art.

The idea to build an extension has floated around for the last few years, said High. While the museum has always had Roman-era glass works from Ringling’s original collection, the museum began to amass more glass only in the last five years. It became clear that a proper entrance and space for the collection and the Asolo Theater were soon needed and in the short span of two years, the pavilion went from a floorplan to the façade that stands today. The pavilion is an extension to the original museum built in 1931 in an effort to promote art and education to the general public. The pavilion is just one building to the nine on site, each housing a specific collection designed by a different architect. This was a deliberate choice, as the diverse designs show “buildings of our time.”

The pavilion was built by architecture firm Lewis + Whitlock and and the art pieces were donated by The Philip and Nancy Kotler Glass Collection and The Warren J. and Margot E. Coville Glass Collection. They and David and Mary Benfer, Charles and Charlotte Perret, Leon and Margaret Ellen, Willis A. Smith, Gulf Coast Community Foundation funded the project. Willis A. Smith Construction assisted in its construction.


“Ringling Museum - Kotler-Coville Pavilion”
Unveiling: Jan. 22, 2018
5401 Bay Shore Rd,
Sarasota, Florida
Tel: 941-359-5700 ext. 3104

GLASS: The UrbanGlass Quarterly, a glossy art magazine published four times a year by UrbanGlass has provided a critical context to the most important artwork being done in the medium of glass for 35 years.