Ringling Museum Dedicates New Building to Strong Supporter
Sarasota, FL – Jan. 25, 2007 – The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art dedicates the new Visitors Pavilion in honor of former State Senate President John M. McKay during a special ceremony at 5:30 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 1, 2007.
In 2006, the Florida Legislature named the Visitors Pavilion, the new entrance to the Museum, in honor of McKay. Sen. McKay was the individual chiefly responsible for securing state funding for the Ringling Museum/Florida State University Master Plan to restore and enhance the Museum for generations to come.
McKay’s name, to be unveiled as part of the ceremony, is displayed on the east façade of the Visitors Pavilion, visible through the original Cà d’Zán Gate House.
The Visitors Pavilion opened in January 2006 as the Museum’s main entrance with expanded ticketing and first-rate visitor amenities. It was the first new building to open as part of the Master Plan.
“Senator McKay shares FSU’s vision of creating a cultural campus at the Ringling Museum,” said FSU President T.K. Wetherell. “The building in his name will stand as lasting testimony to his vision and accomplishments in the areas of cultural enrichment, excellence in education and tourism in the State.”
Sen. McKay played a critical role in the museum’s transformation that took place beginning in 2000, when governance of the estate was transferred to Florida State University. His leadership helped ensure the state budget for 2002-2003 included $42.9 million in the FSU allocation to fund the entire Ringling/FSU Master Plan. McKay and the local delegation strategically included the funding line item in FSU’s overall budget. FSU then directed the construction funds to the Ringling Museum when the museum’s board of directors committed to raise a $50 million endowment in five years with $10 million secured in the first year. The museum not only was able to meet this challenge, but raised a total amount of $56 million. In effect, McKay’s influence helped lead the Museum to expand and establish a sound financial footing for future growth.
“Senator McKay helped prop open new doors for the Ringling Museum and its future. We would not be where we are today if it weren’t for the leadership and support he provided,” said Executive Director John Wetenhall. “In that same spirit, it seems most appropriate that his name appear above the first doors that open to our visitors.”
McKay is a sixth generation Floridian, born in Winter Haven. He graduated from FSU in 1971 and built a career in commercial real estate. He was first elected state senator in 1990. He represented District 26, which includes Manatee, Hardee, DeSoto, Highlands and Sarasotacounties. McKay serves on the Ringling Museum Board of Directors.
The Visitors Pavilion was built directly behind the original Cà d’Zan Gate House. Building architect Yann Weymouth from HOK in Tampa transformed the Gate House into the main pedestrian entrance to the Ringling Estate.
After passing through the restored Cà d’Zán Gate House, Museum guests enter the grand lobby of the Visitors Pavilion. With a bank of admission stations for faster service, the lobby also provides entry to the Museum Store, the popular Museum restaurant Treviso, an orientation video theater, a children’s gathering area and the restored Historic Asolo Theater.
The Visitors Pavilion opening was concurrent with the opening of the Circus Museum’s Tibbals Learning Center in January 2006, the Education/Conservation Building in December 2006 and the Ulla R. and Arthur F. Searing Wing in February 2007. The Searing Wing officially opens to the public on Feb. 3, 2007, two days after the McKay dedication.
The dedication ceremony will begin at 5:30 p.m. on Feb. 1 in front of the Cà d’Zán Gate House, and immediately followed by a VIP preview of the Searing Wing and its inaugural exhibitions.
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