Close the Ringling? Are they kidding?

Lennie Bennett in the St. Pete Times today reports that the trustees of FSU are "floating" the idea of closing the Ringling Museum complex in Sarasota as a way of dealing with the huge budget cuts called for by the state. There's the possibility that this is all a ploy to show off just how dire such cuts would be, and that there's no real intention on the university's part to close the museum. But to even consider it? Do these people not read the papers? The furor that resulted when Brandeis University announced plans to cut its Rose Art Museum may have permanently damaged the school's reputation, and the Ringling is arguably a much bigger prize — not only an art museum, but a tourist destination rich in historic architecture (including the Ca d'Zan mansion and the recently restored Asolo Theater) and one display, the miniature circus, that is like nothing else in the world. I can't imagine anyone at FSU, Tallahassee or Sarasota allowing this to happen — and if this is all a ploy to get publicity, look, it's working! — but the fact that such an idea is even being considered reaches a new low in cultural dunderheadedness.

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