Best-Laid Plans

By: Holly Van Eperen, collections and project manager on February 2nd, 2022

Last week, the Woodson Art Museum welcomed 160 fourth- and fifth-grade students for Art Cluster, a Wausau School District program for those who demonstrate an aptitude and eagerness for the visual arts. In previous years, the Museum hosted students during the program’s first day, with the balance taking place at the Boys & Girls Club of the Wausau Area. This year, however, with renovations underway at the Boys & Girls Club, an alternate site for the program was needed . . . enter the Woodson Art Museum.

The Museum rose to the occasion and offered to accommodate students for all four days, hoping to help sustain this extraordinary program amidst ongoing challenges.

Throughout recent months, Museum staff worked with district educators to create an exciting and rewarding experience for all participants, students and staff alike. We coordinated supplies, created schedules (many, many renditions of the program schedule), lists, maps, and project samples, in an effort to make each day go without a hitch.

Within the Woodson’s education department, the three of us – curators of education Catie Anderson and Rachel Hausmann Schall and I – have varied strengths. Catie and Rachel are creative and excellent at developing new project ideas and inspirational examples. I, however, am more analytical.

As you might have guessed, the scheduling and logistics for this program fell mainly to me. I have years of experience scheduling and coordinating events at previous jobs, so the Art Cluster schedule was mainly within my comfort zone. It still came with quite a few challenges. This led to the several schedule renditions and assistant director Matt Foss greeting me each day with a “hi” or “good-morning” followed by “any changes to the schedule?” and a “how can I help?”

As Wisconsinites know, you can plan and prepare, but winter still has to cooperate; last week’s subzero temperatures “threatened” to cancel school and the whole program. Thankfully, students and staff made it to the Museum, safe and warm, and had a fantastic time learning and creating.

As the project’s hectic months came to an end, I was relieved. The prospect of a week without last-minute scheduling changes, large-group coordination, and project resets was looking good to me by Art Cluster’s final day.

Looking back, though, I miss the galleries filled with the students’ smiling, laughing faces, their complete joy as they learned new tricks while gelli printing, and the pride they had in creating their own illustrated story to show their friends and family.

Enjoy the artistic achievements of Art Cluster students March 5-25, at the Marathon County Public Library, where their work will be on view during Student Art Month.

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