If you’ve come to the Museum lately and looked at the exterior of the original building, you might not notice anything different. If you were last here in the spring, you’ll see trees and flowers now in bloom, but the original house structure looks the same. Believe it or not, extensive work has been done as the Museum continually works to maintain and strengthen the 90+ year old building. Besides serving as essential gallery space, staff offices, and Visitor Services, it is also where the Museum first opened its doors in fall 1976 and remains the core of what we do as an institution.
Additionally, it remains an important connection between Museum staff and the Woodson family. Working in a place that used to be someone’s home can be a fun and challenging experience. While many nooks and crannies don’t always lend themselves to museum work, it’s neat to say that my office used to be a bedroom, or a gallery space was previously the formal dining room. To determine an electrical wire source a few weeks ago, Museum director Kathy Foley called a Woodson family member who once lived in the house to ask which upstairs bedroom had been his, because an unknown electrical conduit referenced his name. How neat is that? These are the type of experiences that make working at the Woodson Art Museum fun and keep us connected to the past.
So, when a review of the building’s exterior occurred last year, we started planning to restore key elements. In June – when spring finally arrived – the Museum’s trusty design / build partner, The Samuels Group, began restoring parts of the original house’s exterior. I hesitate to even mention what the crew restored / replaced, because they did such a good job that it’s gone unnoticeable to visitors, and even most of the staff. The workers took their time to make sure the changes reflected the character and aesthetic of the original building. Upon completion, the workers remarked that the restorations should be good for the next few decades, when assuredly the next generation of Woodson Art Museum professionals will work in concert with the next generation of Woodson family members to maintain and restore the structures for the shared purpose to enhance lives through art.