The Ringling receives significant gift from Stanton and Nancy Kaplan

Stanton B. Kaplan and Nancy W. Kaplan have gifted a major photography collection and fascinating collection of Asian scholars’ rocks to The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota.
Stanton B. Kaplan and Nancy W. Kaplan have gifted a major photography collection and fascinating collection of Asian scholars’ rocks to The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota.

The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art received a significant gift from Stanton B. Kaplan and Nancy W. Kaplan, a couple with a long history of volunteering at and providing financial support to the museum.

This gift includes a major photography collection that features more than a thousand photographs by over 30 prominent artists including Eugène Atget, Imogen Cunningham, Edward Weston and many others, as well as a fascinating collection of Asian scholars’ rocks. The funds also will endow both a curatorial position in photography and the Photography and Media Arts Program of The Ringling.

“The Kaplans have a long history with the museum of volunteerism and financial support, and we are honored to receive this significant gift of art and funding that will enable us to share their diverse collections with the Sarasota community,” said Steven High, The Ringling’s executive director. “The endowments of a curatorship and a program focused on photography and the media arts is an especially important commitment by the Kaplans to support The Ringling’s growing collections and scholarship in this medium. In addition, the gift will allow us to expand our educational outreach through supporting publications and developing exhibitions drawn from the Kaplan collection.”

A volunteer at The Ringling since the 1990s, Stanton B. Kaplan’s interest in collecting photographs was ignited at age 10 when he built his own dark room. His first foray into collecting happened with the purchase of a photograph by Ansel Adams about 30 years ago, and from there his connoisseurship developed as he expanded a collection that now includes many 20thcentury masters.

Nancy Kaplan is a collector of Asian scholars’ rocks. The rocks, also known as Gongshi, are naturally occurring or shaped rocks that are traditionally appreciated by Chinese scholars. The Kaplans donated a large Limestone Scholars’ Rock to the museum in 2001, and their latest gift will become part of The Ringling’s Asian art collection.

The first Stanton B. and Nancy W. Kaplan Curator of Photography and Media Arts, Christopher Jones, said he is excited about the opportunities that this generous gift will provide for the museum.

“The impact of the Kaplans’ gift on The Ringling cannot be understated,” Jones said. “Stan has created an outstanding collection of images by some of the most important artists in the history of photography. Gifting these works as part of their legacy elevated our collections and allows us to offer so many new perspectives and stories to our community for generations to come.”

Another exhibit curated from the collection of Stanton and Nancy Kaplan, “Manuel Alvarez Bravo: Specters and Parables,” features work by one of the 20thcentury’s most celebrated photographers, Manuel Alvarez Bravo. The exhibit will open Dec. 8, 2019, and run through Mar. 1, 2020, in The Ringling’s Ulla R. and Arthur F. Searing Wing.

About The Ringling

The Ringling is a pre-eminent center for the arts, history and learning that is dedicated to bringing the past and contemporary culture to life through extraordinary visitor experiences. The Ringling’s campus in Sarasota, Florida – which includes the Museum of Art, the Circus Museum, an historic mansion, an 18th-century theater and bayfront gardens – is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. As the State Art Museum of Florida and part of Florida State University, The Ringling fulfills an important educational mission and offers formal and informal programs of study serving as a major resource for students, scholars, and lifelong learners of every age within the region, across the country and around the world.

For more information about The Ringling, visit