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The Ringling hires familiar face to head art library

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  • | 11:00 p.m. November 19, 2014
  • Arts + Culture
  • Performing Art
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Stacked between the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, the Circus Museum, the Ca’ d’Zan, the Historic Asolo Theater and the Bayfront Gardens over at the Ringling lies an entire universe of knowledge and books. The often overlooked education center at the Ringling contains a conservation lab to repair damaged artifacts and artworks, an education center for talkbacks from visitng artists and classes, and a massive art library that houses thousands of books and monographs from the 16th to 21st century. Fine art, decorative art, art history, architecture, fashion and theater are all represented in this bibliographic reservoir.

Leading this institution requires a specific passion, expertise and familiarity with the mission of the Ringling. Fortunately for the Sarasota institution, they found a new head librarian with ties to the Ringling after a lengthy reprieve in Europe.

Elisa Hansen, who served as the Director of Adult and Academic Programs and Acting Curator from 1989 to 1995, returns after more than a decade abroad working and researching in Copenhagen, Denmark. Hansen’s Danish hiatus has not stifled her passion and drive to lead the art library and all things Ringling.

“It’s wonderful to be back in Sarasota and especially be back at the Ringling,” says Hansen.

One of Hansen’s main goals for the coming years is to elevate the library’s profile and accessibility inside and outside the Ringling.

“Most people don’t know what a rich resource we have about art and all the other fields here at the Ringling,” says Hansen. “I would like for there to be more students and community members to avail themselves to what we have to offer here.”

Besides making the library and its vast resources as much as a destination as any of the other attractions located within the Ringling’s grounds, Hansen wants to launch a digital revolution.

“I’d also like to add more of our collection electronically and digitize it and to make it more available to people outside our walls,” says Hansen. Imagining the over 60,000 books, 5,000 rare books and 800 or so books from John Ringling’s personal library available someday on an online database or maybe even an app makes any book and art lover shake with excitement.

“We have things here that you can’t find anywhere else,” says Hansen. And with approximately 2,000 books added to the libraries catalogue every year, the Ringling Art Library will only increase in strength and value under Hansen’s direction.



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