THE JOHN AND MABLE RINGLING MUSEUM OF ART MOURNS THE PASSING
OF PHILANTHROPIST ULLA R. SEARING
Sarasota, FL— June 28, 2012 – The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art today joins the community of Sarasota, Fla. in mourning the passing of Ulla R. Searing. The philanthropist was passionate about art, culture, education, history, museums, and travel. Her $6.5 million bequest in 2005 -- one of the largest gifts in Ringling Museum history -- to the Ringling Endowment Campaign included the underwriting of a new wing of the Museum of Art. She also contributed to the Ringling’s Tibbals Learning Center, a building that opened in 2006 that celebrates the American Circus, as well as created a $2.5 million endowment for the Ulla R. Searing Curator of Collections.
The Swedish born philanthropist and her husband, Arthur F. Searing, who died in 1983, arrived in Sarasota in 1973 and shared their time between Sarasota in the winter and Southampton, Long Island in the summer.
"Ulla Searing was not only a great visionary and contributor to The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, but a catalyst behind a significant part of our growth," said Steven High, executive director. "Following in the tradition of John and Mable Ringling, Ulla had the vision and wherewithal to carry out her dreams and help the Ringling complete the Museum’s Master Building Plan. The Ulla R. and Arthur F. Searing Wing is a testament to her passion and generosity, as well as a lasting symbol of her philanthropy. Their legacy lives on for the millions of visitors who come to see special exhibitions at the Ulla R. and Arthur F. Searing Wing."
At the time of its opening on Feb. 3, 2007, the Ulla R. and Arthur F. Searing Wing was integral to the completion of the Ringling Museum’s $76 million, five year Master Plan to restore and expand its facilities. Designed by architects Yann Weymouth, HOK, Tampa, Fl, the wing, named for Ulla Searing and her late husband Arthur, added 20,000 square feet of exhibition space. The building is used for major traveling exhibitions and rotating shows of art from the Museum’s extensive permanent collection of more than 15,000 objects. In 2011, Joseph’s Coat, a Skyspace created by internationally renowned artist, James Turrell, opened. Located in the William G. and Marie Selby Foundation Courtyard of the Ulla R. and Arthur F. Searing Wing of the Ringling Museum of Art, this is the world's largest Skyspace and one of only two public Skyspaces on the East Coast.
“Ulla was fascinated by art and history,” remarked Ron McCarty, the keeper of the Ca’d’Zan. “She enjoyed reading an exhibition’s wall text. She also loved coming to the Ca’ d’Zan mansion at Christmas time. It reminded her of Christmas in Sweden.”
Searing gave to many arts organizations and educational institutions, including the Asolo Repertory Theater, Circus Sarasota, Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA, New College, Ringling School of Art & Design, Sarasota Ballet, Sarasota Opera, The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, University of South Florida, and Youth Opera.