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Livio Seguso’s Scultura #2, 1991. Gift of Philip and Nancy Kotler, 2012

Visitors to the John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art will have something new to ooh and aah over in 2018, when the museum campus continues to expand with the addition of the Kotler-Coville Glass Pavilion.

It’s a glass pavilion in more ways than one. First, the two-story, 5,500-square-foot space, adjacent to the visitors’ pavilion, will showcase the museum’s collection of studio art glass, including on display at any one time 45 or so pieces of the ever more popular art form. Second, the addition itself uses the medium of glass in its design by Lewis + Whitlock, allowing views into the gallery from outside. It’s all about transparency.

Perhaps nicest of all for visitors: They don’t have to pay a dime just to see the glass works on view. “Because it’s located where visitors are going to buy tickets anyway, we really can’t charge them to see it,” says The Ringling’s executive director, Steven High. “The glass pavilion will always be free.”

With soaring 24-foot-tall ceilings, the Kotler-Coville pavilion will make a grand home not only for changing exhibitions of the 200 or so pieces currently in the glass collection (many from the gifts made by collectors Philip and Nancy Kotler and Warren and Margot Coville) but for two major pieces by well-known artists working in the form. One is by Venetian master Lino Tagliapietra; the other, Sideboard with Blue China by Beth Lipman, had previously been on view in the museum galleries. The reassembling of that monumental work in its new permanent home will have preparators working even more carefully than usual.

The new building will also offer The Ringling and its Historic Asolo Theater room to prepare its productions. “On the ground floor, we finally will have a dressing room for actors with mobility issues,” says High. “And on the second floor, there’s a rehearsal studio with the width of the proscenium so the actors and directors can plan stage movement there. Right now we have to develop work on the stage and warm up in the loading dock.”

A ribbon cutting for the pavilion is set for Jan. 21, after which it will be open to the public. In addition, Sarasota’s annual Glass Weekend of events and shows is scheduled for January. For more info, head to ringling.org.

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