From my observations, museum workers are museum fans. We have our lists of favorites, but in general, we like them all. There must be an unwritten rule; no matter the institution you work for, when going to a city, you must explore its museums.
People are drawn to visit cities for many reasons. For my soon-to-be-in-laws, the reason for a recent trip to the Twin Cities was a Minnesota Wild hockey game. My fiancé, Scott, was excited for the game, but also wanted to check out breweries and restaurants. For me, I was also ready to cheer, but I had some museums to cross off my list.
Scott and I left for our getaway a few days before the rest of the group with the combined goal to visit museums and breweries. Scott is surely benefiting from my museum-going habits as I am from his love of craft beers and sports. Art, beer, and sports can go hand-in-hand when experiencing a city.
At the Minneapolis Institute of Art (MIA) we first walked into Kamoda Shōji: The Art of Change. At work the week prior, I had witnessed the installation of glass exhibitions at the Woodson Art Museum. Shōji’s vessels though earthy and organic, reminded me of the Art Deco glass on view in Wausau through the clean lines and geometric shapes. From there, we spent much of our time in MIA’s collection exploring the Asian galleries and those featuring twentieth-century paintings. From a western perspective, I’m always amazed at how loose Asian art was long before twentieth-century painters pushed boundaries. Helen Frankenthaler’s painting from 1987 breaks lines with paint bleeds in Rio Grand. Carved out in the middle of our time at MIA was the unsurprisingly eerie artwork in Supernatural America: The Paranormal in American Art. Other than when I worked at a house museum in Milwaukee that was thought to be haunted and closed it by myself on Halloween night, I can’t say I’ve ever experienced this sense of spookiness in a gallery space.
Next, we found Saint Paul Brewing. Quickly upon arrival, we figured out that the facility that houses the craft brewery once was the brewing facility and factory for Hamm’s Brewery. While enjoying a flight to sample their beers, Scott discovered that Saint Paul Brewing had a tour and we signed up. The tour turned out to be mostly a Hamm’s history tour and the tour guide a Hamm’s “fan boy,” with no arguments from me. As a past Milwaukeean, I know how beer can shape the history of a city and enjoyed learning a piece of the Twin Cities’ beer history.
We had time for one other museum visit, and we went to the Walker Art Center, long awaited on my list of museums to visit. There we saw a solo exhibition of Julie Mehretu’s substantial works and David Hockney: People, Places, & Things. The Walker is perfect for substantial works such as Mehretu’s. There is space to breathe in between the intricacies of line-work and shapes within the work. Hockney was a name I knew from modern art history classes, but I was not familiar with the breadth of his work. The humble subject matter that nears domesticity comes through from the artist who spent time in southern California. Swimming pools might not seem humble in a northern climate or domestic amid freezing rain outside in March, but the shapes and calmness of the diving board drew me in. Coming out of the exhibition, I’m now a fan.
The last stop of the weekend was the hockey game. Although different from the other experiences in the city, it’s a completely valid cultural phenomenon. Hours before the game, fans descended upon the street near the Xcel Energy Center. When the time was close enough to puck drop, we all filed into the arena. I’m not much of a sports fan, but I do enjoy the energy of a game in person. It’s easy to be drawn into the passions of assembled fans and cheer along in hope that the home team succeeds.
Each of these activities is part of the culture that makes up a city and attracts it’s own set of fans. During future visits to the Twin Cities, we’ll have to discover and become fans of even more activities, places, and artists.
Here in Wausau, there are many reasons to visit in addition to the Woodson Art Museum. We have recreation year-round and a great selection of restaurants and breweries. Whether you live here or are visiting for work or the weekend, support our many local businesses and stop into the Woodson Art Museum. On view now are Art Deco Glass from the David Huchthausen Collection and Molten: 30 Years of American Glass. Visit this spring and find many other reasons to travel to Wausau.