Howard Tibbals Donates $4 Million to Expand Circus Museums in Sarasota
SARASOTA, Fla. – Jan. 24, 2008 – Florida State University and The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art today announced $4 million from philanthropist and circus enthusiast Howard C. Tibbals to expand the Tibbals Learning Center. The funding is eligible for a state match making its potential $8 million.
Tibbals is well known for his gift to FSU/Ringling Museum in 2000 to build the second Circus Museum on the Ringling Estate called the Tibbals Learning Center and to establish an endowment. The gift was fully matched by the state.
The Tibbals Learning Center opened in January 2006 and received worldwide acclaim, especially for its centerpiece exhibition The Howard Bros. Circus Model. The 3,800-square-foot exhibition was built by Tibbals and depicts the American circus from 1919-1938 on a 3/4-inch scale.
“Howard Tibbals has helped transform the Ringling Estate into a more family-friendly attraction with the Tibbals Learning Center,” said Ringling Museum Executive Director Dr. John Wetenhall. “Recognizing that, the FSU/Ringling Board of Directors and leadership had committed to expanding the Circus Museum in its 2007-2012 goals and Mr. Tibbals’ visionary support will now allow that to take place very quickly.”
Tibbals’ latest contribution of $4 million will add a two-story, 20,000-square-foot wing to the existing Tibbals Learning Center. The first floor will showcase exhibitions celebrating the history of circus performance as well as further serve the educational mission of the Museum. The second floor will establish the Tibbals Center for the Study of the American Circus and be well-equipped for research by scholars and curators.
“Florida State University’s circus connection is deeply rooted at the Ringling Museum and this new resource established because of Howard Tibbals will add a unique and inspiring dimension to our collegiate offerings, emphasizing the importance of circus entertainment in the academic study of American culture,” said FSU President T.K. Wetherell.
The $4 million is eligible for a one-to-one match through Florida’s Alec P. Courtelis Capital Facilities Matching Trust Fund for State University buildings.
Building preparations including choosing an architect, programmatic planning and design concepts will commence immediately. The target date to open the building to the public is 2011.