The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota, Florida, has received a significant donation of more than one-thousand photographs by artists such as Eugène Atget, Imogen Cunningham, Edward Weston as well as an undisclosed amount of funding that will endow both a curatorial position in photography and the museum’s Photography and Media Arts Program. The gift from arts patrons Stanton B. and Nancy W. Kaplan also includes a collection of Asian Scholars’ Rocks—naturally occurring stones, variously called viewing stones, spirit stones, and respect stones (gongshi), that are traditionally appreciated by Chinese academics.
“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,” Steven High, the Ringling’s executive director said. “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.”
Christopher Jones, the first Stanton B. and Nancy W. Kaplan curator of photography and media arts, added, “The impact of the Kaplan’s gift on The Ringling cannot be understated. 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.”
Stanton Kaplan, who has been involved with The Ringling since he became a volunteer at the institution in the 1990s, began collecting around thirty years ago with the purchase of a photograph by Ansel Adams. Nancy Kaplan, a longtime collector of Asian Scholars’ Rocks, previously donated a large Limestone Scholars’ Rock to the museum in 2001. Among the works included in the gift are over forty photographs by Mexican photographer Manuel Alvarez Bravo, which will be on view in the exhibition “Manuel Alvarez Bravo: Specters and Parables” starting December 8.