By mid-January, in the center of The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art’s 66-acre campus just south of the Banyan restaurant, will be a new playspace for children — the David F. Bolger Playspace. A recent $400,000 grant from Bolger to The Ringling helped fund the playspace.
Bolger says, “The need for the museum to attract kids and have an interactive space they could call their own, all the while providing for children with disabilities, as well,” is what inspired the gift.
Bolger, a Longboat Key resident and philanthropist, visited the museum in 2008; that visit led him to donate more than
$1 million that was directed toward the museum’s waterfront landscaping plan. The donation helped build the Bolger Promenade and Campiello projects.
It’s not about the legacy for Bolger, but he says, it’s about enhancing people’s lives and their experiences in regard to the world around them.
“Mr. Bolger is a legendary philanthropist,” Dwight Currie, associate director of museum programs, says. “He has got an incredible record of giving, much of it in the world of health care, but also in the arts, and he’s very taken with the Ringling property.”
Bolger is the founder of Bolger & Co., a real-estate and investment firm based in New Jersey, and is the current president and founder of The Bolger Foundation. He has also donated funds that helped create the Sarasota Memorial Health Care System Urgent Care Clinics.
The Bolger Foundation has also contributed to InStride Equine Assisted Therapy, as well as Historic Spanish Point.
A New York-based company, Architecture Playground Equipment, planned the playspace. It has designed similar projects around the world, from Europe to South America.
“They are, hands down, the leaders around the world in doing this,” Currie says.
There will be time-tested playground components, such as swings and slides, along with interesting features such as a water-play space and climbing structure. It will be a playground experience designed to be used by children of all ages (including adults) and of all abilities.
“The playspace will give parents a space to go, to let their children’s imaginations run and help them enjoy the museum, and perhaps bring some of their learning from the museum into their own imaginative play,” Bolger says.
Contact Mallory Gnaegy at [email protected].