Bye, Bye, Summer; Hello, Birdie

By: Catie Anderson, curator of education on August 23rd

Taking turns lamenting summer’s inevitable departure seems to be an unofficial, mid-August tradition amongst Woodson Art Museum staff members.

“How is it already August?!”

Birds in Art can’t be just two weeks away.”

“Where did my summer go?”

The good news is Museum staff didn’t waste summer lounging around on the couch or acquiring poolside sunburns. Instead, we’ve been busy packing in as many productive hours as we can in preparation for, you guessed it, Birds in Art. I’m fortunate that my coworkers tackle intimidating aspects like the exhibition catalogue, coordinating shipping, and attending to countless details for the Birds in Art opening festivities (with the exception of Artists in Action, which I tackle with staff, too).

Over the past two weeks, I’ve kept more than busy preparing eighteen Birds in Art audio tour app videos. The short videos include artists’ voices as they introduce their artwork, sharing stories about everything from the avian encounter that inspired their work to overviews of their processes and materials. 

Working in Final Cut Pro, I clean up the artists’ self-recorded audio tracks and do my best to illustrate their artwork narratives by using images they’ve shared with me or open-source photographs.

I enjoy the video-editing process and savor the chance to learn more about Birds in Art artworks and artists.

Once the videos have been edited and exported, I enlist my busy coworkers to watch the videos, scanning for necessary tweaks before I send each artist a link to the app video to review and suggest changes they’d like to see before we submit the app for mobile release.

Next, Museum media and technology intern Ayo Lawal, a senior at Wausau’s Engineering & Global Leadership Academy, uses several app-development programs, including Xcode and Android Studio, to update the Woodson Art Museum’s app with new code and media files – the new content for the upcoming exhibition.

Ayo simulates beta versions of the app for curator of exhibitions Andy McGivern and me to review in his “command center” across the hall from my office and on iPod touch devices so we can interact with the “draft version” of the app and test for glitches.

This is a well-deserved shout out to Ayo, a high school senior who came happily and willingly to the Art Museum to put in many hours of highly-skilled labor during his summer vacation.

For a sneak preview of the exhibition and app, check the Museum’s YouTube channel and the video below about first-time Birds in Art artist Michael Dickter’s painting, The Beauty of One.

The Birds in Art app will be available at the Museum on iPod touch devices and for download on Apple and Android devices on opening day, Saturday, September 9.

With the bulk of the app work behind me, my focus now shifts to the logistics for guest artist programming and developing interpretive materials to enhance exhibition learning opportunities for educators, students, and Museum docents during Birds in Art. Fellow Museum educator Lisa Hoffman and I are refining the themes, ideas, and hands-on art-making experiences for the fall’s visiting school groups and public programs. Creative consultant Shannon Pueschner and facilities manager Dave Jones are preparing for the installation of new interactives for Art Park, the Museum’s hands-on family gallery, which welcomes thousands of visitors eager for experiential learning during trips to the Museum.

Although, summer is winding down, the adrenaline of pre-Birds in Art tasks keeps everyone at the Woodson Art Museum moving forward, ready for the flurry of fall.


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