Appreciating Backyard Gems

By: Andrew McGivern, curator of exhibitions on November 4th, 2015

Birders know better than most the fleeting nature of outdoor birdwatching opportunities. An after-hours Woodson Art Museum tour this week introduced local birders to year-round in-gallery birdwatching opportunities.

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The Wausau Bird Club meets on the first Monday of every month and includes birders with interests ranging from causal to avid. During the summer, the club meets in parks and various outdoor sites to go birdwatching as a group. In the fall, the club meets indoors at the Universalist Unitarian Church on Grant Street.

After joining the club in 2014, I offered to give a behind-the-scenes tour of the Museum last fall during Birds in Art We spent time in the galleries, looking at artwork and toured our working areas where all the preparatory “magic” happens. Club members must have enjoyed the visit, because they asked if I would host the group again this fall.

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We met Monday evening and instead of a small group, thirty people showed up. Thinking quickly, I decided to start in a larger gallery and alter my presentation. Using educational props to demonstrate how certain sculptures and two-dimensional artworks are created, I passed around samples of smooth steatite stone and discussed how soft the stone was and how easily it could be carved.

I shared samples of Paul Rhymer’s maquette for his Road Runner sculpture and explained the process of bronze casting and how the use of rubber molds allows the artist to make multiples. Walking through the galleries, I pointed out artworks by artists whose larger works are in the sculpture garden.

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The Woodson Art Museum’s Birds in Art draws visitors from near and far. It was great to offer this after-hour experience for members of the Wausau Bird Club, who appreciate what a gem the Art Museum is in their own backyard.

What do you most enjoy at the Woodson Art Museum?

If you haven’t yet experienced this year’s Birds in Art, plan to visit soon during the few remaining weeks; the exhibition remains on view through November 29.

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