Rape of an Estate, some history about "The Ringling" by RayFlash [WorldCat.org]
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Rape of an estate

by Joe McKennon

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4 of 5 people found this review helpful.
Rape of an Estate, some history about "The Ringling"   (2015-06-05)

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by RayFlash

Most people don't realize that John Ringling never intended to have the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art connected to his history in the circus business.  If you read his will, it is never mentioned that he wanted any circus memorabilia to become part of the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art.  He never would have expected the Florida State University to control his museum either, as he had intended to leave it to the people of the State of Florida.  The recent re branding of the museum as "The Ringling" also conflicts with the instructions left by John Ringling in his will.  The will states that no one has the right to change the official name of the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art.
   
A man who worked at the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art , named Joe McKennon (deceased), self-published an 80 page book called Rape of an Estate in 1986 which recorded issues of abuse and misuse at the museum before Florida State University took control of it in 2000.  In the book, the author admits his guilt in helping to create a circus museum at the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art.  He worked as a circus curator and restored the many circus wagons on display there.  The publication also reprints John Ringling's will.  In the will, it is stated that no one has permission to ever change the official name of the museum itself and that it is always to be called the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art.  Rape of an Estate is bound in a simple way with a plain white cover with big blue text. There are stacks of the book in a locked circus archive room that the public is not allowed into at the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art. There are a very few copies of Rape of an Estate around and it can sometimes be found online available for sale on sites like amazon.com.  I have recently seen a signed copy of this little book for sale at just over $100 online.

   
The author, Joe McKennon, was a life-long circus worker from Texas.  He was born in 1916 and died in 1991 and wrote at least 6 books, all circus related.  At the early age of 3 he decided to join the circus.  At age 12 and then again at age 14 he ran away from home and joined circuses, but both times his parents found him and brought him back home.  Finally, as a teenager after high school graduation, he joined the Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus after working for the Santa Fe Railroad.  He did a stint in the US Army, completed 2 years of work at the University of Texas and worked with many carnivals and circuses, even with the Ringling outfit.  While he was working at The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art he was also a cattle rancher on a 400 acre cattle ranch he owned in North Carolina.




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