Historical highlights of the progression of the Sarasota Museum of Art/SMOA

October, 2005
SMOA became a division of Ringling College. Together, we are working on transforming historic Sarasota High School.

Fall, 2006
Ringling College and SMOA launched an Architectural Design Competition to select an architectural firm for the Visual Arts Education Center/VAEC. The Jury for the competition was a panel of professionals from various cities. The ADP Group of Sarasota was selected as the winning firm.

Working with the Ringling College and SMOA Building Committee the architectural design firm completed the schematic designs as well as the design and development drawings. In addition, a Virtual Tour was created to show how the 3-story, 57,000 sq ft building will be repurposed.  The renovation includes: outdoor sculpture garden, outdoor patio and indoor café, 110-seat auditorium, ADA access, elevators and a 3-story contemporary addition. 

November, 2008
During a momentous official ceremony, SMOA and Ringling College received ‘the keys’ to the Sarasota High School from the Sarasota County School Board. That same day multi-colored banners adorned the building and a large sign ‘the Future Home of SMOA’ was unveiled on the front lawn.  

As a ‘museum in the making’ SMOA launched its ARTmuse Program. The interesting and diverse ARTmuse programs offer people a preview of what is to come once SMOA is up and running in landmark Sarasota High School. Another highlight of the year was the arrival of a detailed 8’ x 6’ model of the proposed renovation and the installation of a 10’ x 20’ realistic mural of the interior walkway into the new addition. Both are on display at Sarasota High School.

Our commitment to educational programming was showcased with visiting world renowned artist Judy Pfaff for SMOA’s ARTmuse Program. During this 2-day program there was an actual print making demonstration. Judy and her Master Printmaker, Andy Rubin from Tandem Press of Madison, Wisconsin and Jill Lerner, Master Printmaker and Faculty Member at Ringling College who pulled a proof of an oversized 6’x 8’ print. It was an amazing learning experience for all to see.  Many thanks go to PNC Wealth Management for sponsoring this program.  This same year Dr. Stephen Brown, Assistant Curator from the Jewish Museum of New York, gave an interesting presentation on ‘Action/Abstraction’.  New banners were unveiled announcing that we are halfway to our fundraising goal.

Sarasota Magazine and PNC Wealth Management hosted a party for SMOA aboard the luxury art megayacht 'SeaFair' which was docked at Marina Jack’s. This was a celebration for SMOA’s achievements and to support SMOA in our effort to reach our final destination. SMOA’s ARTmuse Program featured glass sculptor Seth Randal who is a master of the lost wax process. He demonstrated how he makes his one-of-kind glass sculpture pieces. Fundraising accomplishments – we are more then halfway to the goal.

2012 was an exceptional season for SMOA with a robust and well received series of ARTmuse programs. New life was brought  into the historic high school building with curators and visiting artists who gave fascinating presentations differing from each other in personality, format and content.

Here are some of the program highlights of the season starting with the November 11-11-11 Saks/Nuovo 25th Anniversary Party where SMOA was honored as the beneficiary. People filled Michael's on East and enjoyed terrific music, ambiance, food in support of the future art museum, SMOA. December ARTmuse began with Karole Vail (Peggy Guggenheim’s granddaughter), a highly respected curator at the Guggenheim in NYC and director of her Family Foundation in France with her husband Andrew Huston, a prominent contemporary artist. They were our guest speakers for two days providing interesting insights to the Guggenheim Museum and the family plus time to be social at a cocktail party. January ARTmuse showcased multi-media artist Lesley Dill whose work is influenced by Emily Dickinson. It was 'up close and personal' for two days and evenings learning about Lesley, how she creates, thinks and produces her unique pieces. IN mid-February Janet Echelman captivated everyone’s attention for an entire day with ‘Taking Imagination Seriously’…no one wanted to leave their seats. Janet, a Harvard grad, reshapes urban airspace around the world with monumental, fluidly moving sculptural forms constructed with highly sophisticated materials from woven fibers to atomized mist. In 2012 Architectural Digest, Janet was selected 2012 AD Innovator...she's on a trajectory!

Each ARTmuse program was exhilarating, educational and fresh for Sarasota …and, we’re doing this while SMOA is ‘a museum in the making’, happily energizing the visual arts palette and making a difference in Sarasota. Just imagine the future…wow!

Patrick Dougherty was brought to Sarasota for 21 days in January as part of SMOA’s ARTmuse Program. Patrick and over 100 volunteers created a magical sculpture, entirely out of crape myrtles at the future home of SMOA.

Sarasota Magazine, Best of 2013 - May Issue: Best New Work of Art, 'Out in Front'. Sarasota Museum of Art scored a hit with Patrick Dougherty's newest 'stickwork' sculpture, 'Out in Front,' on the grounds of the old Sarasota High School, where thousands pass by every day on U.S. 41. Park your car and stroll around this intriguing fusion of nature and craft. Best part: Eager local volunteers got to help Dougherty create it.

In addition, SMOA had a Docent Program and a Sticks and Clicks Photo Contest in which children and adults were eligible and won prizes.

Plus, SMOA’s Inaugural BASH was the hit of the Sarasota Season as stated in the Herald TribuneStyle Magazine 2012-2013 by its editor. In her words, “one of my personal favorites was January’s Sarasota Museum of Art/SMOA Inaugural BASH. Co-Chairs (and Board Members) Brooke Callanen and Dottie Baer Garner tapped into the community’s excitement about the new museum, attracting more than 700 guests to the event. Patrick Dougherty’s large-scale environmental sculpture was a huge hit, as was the food from the Sarasota-Manatee Originals and one of the best bands of the year, Tampa’s Ace Factor. And the amazing thing was, it never felt crowded. You could move through the old Sarasota High School with ease, with many guests reliving all of those high-school memories."

SMOA was the talk of the town in 2013 with unprecedented media coverage. Please stop by the high school and walk through Patrick’s 239th sculpture that he created for SMOA and Sarasota. We’re 71% toward the fundraising goal…working hard to reach the finish line.

Lisa Hoke, Installation artist from NYC was part of SMOA’s ARTmuse Program. Lisa created ‘Swept Away’. This installation, in 2 oversized rooms on the first floor of the high school was a powerful extravaganza. Using colorful cardboard packaging that the community gathered and contributed she completed this massive project in 18 days. Docent Tours took place so that the public could see the artist at work, learn her process and speak with her. The media wrote and documented her process.

In January, 2014 SMOA received a $1 million matching grant. The community rallied. As SMOA exceeded achieving this matching grant an anonymous donor stepped forward with a $1million challenge grant with a deadline stipulation of May 31, 2014. The fabulous news is that SMOA did it! The fundraising goal was accomplished and the renovations could begin. A ‘big’ thank you and sincere gratitude to the entire community.

With renovations having begun and a national search for the Executive Director underway the exhilaration in the community is electrifying. 

On Sunday, January 18th RE:THE BASH! was held on site in the parking lot under a huge and gorgeous tent. This was both a celebration and an opportunity for people to look forward with anticipation and excitement about the tomorrow’s at SMOA. Attendance: 602 people. Extraordinary ARTful auction items generated a lot of energy and significant financial support to the future SMOA operations and the first exhibitions. THE BASH! committee leaders created a phenomenal and memorable evening for all.

SMOA will add to the cultural landscape of Sarasota. This unique cultural destination will be a place where people can look forward to learning, enjoying and participating in a broad range of art offerings from exhibitions, visiting artist programs, workshops and classes.

We are proud to be restoring and repurposing the historic Sarasota High School, an icon of Sarasota’s architectural heritage.

People in this community have been wonderful, showing their belief and excitement in SMOA.


To help support SMOA, click here to get started.

SMOA's ARTful Restroom during the fundraising phase.