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The Ringling's Kotler-Coville Glass Pavilion opens
The 5,500-square-foot building was designed by Lewis + Whitlock, a regional firm known for its commitment to innovative and sustainable design.

SARASOTA, FLA.- The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art’s new Kotler-Coville Glass Pavilion opened to the public on January 22, 2018. The space brings several initiatives to completion: the development and display of The Ringling’s collection of international studio glass, a formal entrance and gathering space for the Historic Asolo Theater, rehearsal spaces for guest performing artists and another landmark work of architecture on The Ringling campus.

The 5,500-square-foot building was designed by Lewis + Whitlock, a regional firm known for its commitment to innovative and sustainable design. Its sculptural glass façade enables captivating glimpses of works inside. “It was only natural that the Kotler-Coville Glass Pavilion’s dynamic façade, with its light-controlling fins, would be inspired by the sculptural effects that wind and water have on sand, a principal ingredient in the glass-making process,” said Hays Layerd, creative director, Lewis + Whitlock. “Working together with The Ringling leaders to realize their vision of this important new addition to their historic site was exceptionally gratifying.”

The Glass Pavilion creates a beautiful and fitting entrance for the Historic Asolo Theater. An architectural gem in its own right, the theater was created in Asolo, Italy, in 1798 and was acquired by The Ringling in 1950.

Added rehearsal spaces enhance The Ringling’s commitment to working with living artists. The Glass Pavilion provides dedicated space for artists in residence as they create new works of performance art and rehearsal space for artists prior to on-site performances.

The Kotler-Coville Glass Pavilion provides a welcoming entrance to The Ringling, accessible and complimentary to everyone, as well as serve as an introduction to the museum’s collections through the vibrant studio glass collection. The majority of the glass that is being displayed initially in the new pavilion comes from the gift of The Philip and Nancy Kotler Glass Collection and the gift of The Warren J. and Margot E. Coville Glass Collection. In addition to this dedicated glass gallery, which will rotate objects periodically, The Ringling spotlights its glass holdings in the Museum of Art through special exhibitions and installations.

The Kotlers and Covilles provided the lead financial support for this multi-million dollar project. “These families share a mutual appreciation for the studio art glass movement and immense support for artists and arts organizations,” said Steven High. “We are grateful for their generosity and look forward to this auspicious new space on our campus that will introduce or reintroduce our community to the importance of studio glass.”

The objects in the initial display were co-selected by Ringling Executive Director Steven High; Ferdinand Hampson, a well-known glass specialist and dealer who has written extensively on studio glass; and Barry Museum of Art director Jutta Page, formerly curator of glass at the Toledo Museum of Art and the Corning Museum of Glass. For this premiere installation, approximately 45 works of modern and contemporary glass art from five continents are on view, highlighting the strength, diversity and quality of The Ringling’s collection. Visitors will be able to explore a range of dynamic glass techniques as well, from cast and blown glass, to slumped glass and lume processes.

“For this exciting debut of the Glass Pavilion we aimed to truly represent the global character of The Ringling’s collection,” said High. “From Japan, Germany, the Czech Republic, Canada, Argentina and Australia, the innovative work that artists are creating in glass is truly breathtaking.”

The installation also shows the continued growth of the Ringling’s glass collection, with recent gifts being showcased. One example is the monumental glass and wood sideboard by American artist Beth Lipman, purchased through a generous gift by Ringling board member Dan Denton.

The project received significant support from Gulf Coast Community Foundation, which has been a long-standing donor to The Ringling as well as a lead sponsor of the Art of Our Time, a program dedicated to contemporary art. The generosity of David and Mary Benfer, Charles and Charlotte Perret, Leon and Margaret Ellen, and Willis A. Smith Construction was also pivotal to the completion of the Kotler-Coville Glass Pavilion.

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