As the Woodson Art Museum continues its phased re-opening, visitors are meandering through the sculpture garden, embarking on family seek-and-find sculpture quests, sketching in the galleries, and marveling at the intricate patterns and vibrant colors featured in the summer exhibition.
During the spring’s nationwide wave of Covid-19 shutdowns, the Museum did its part to help slow the spread throughout its three-month closure, making extensive changes and preparations. As the Museum welcomes visitors with safety measures in place, a common denominator is emerging.
Grateful visitors are returning and respecting their role in our healthy practices partnership. They see staff wearing masks, frequent cleaning and disinfecting, and changes made to minimize touch points and encourage physical distancing, and contact-free ways to engage with artwork.
As visitors enter, are greeted, get their bearings, and review expectations – to bring and wear masks, sanitize hands, and maintain physical distancing – many are expressing their thanks for the opportunity to visit for reflection, respite, rejuvenation, and inspiration.
Some graciously share snippets of their stories and impressions.
In addition to visitors from Eau Claire, Green Bay, Minocqua, Phillips, River Falls, Stevens Point, Thorpe, Whitewater, Chicago, and a Milwaukee couple visiting their son’s family in Wausau, two tandem bike riders from St. Louis visited during their ride through central Wisconsin seeking cooler temperatures.
Two first-time visitors who came to explore the sculpture garden using provided seek-and-find riddles as clues said “we loved the beauty of the gardens.”
One gentleman said he loved encountering artwork, now on view in Art of the Hunt from the Museum’s collection, that he recognized from previous Birds in Art exhibitions. “It’s like visiting old friends,” he said. After experiencing the summer exhibition, Many Visions, Many Versions: Art from Indigenous Communities in India, he added “I appreciate the multi-cultural, modern exhibition” and extended his “thanks for being open.”
A family of four, first-time visitors from Madison, spent an hour exploring the Museum on a recent rainy Saturday afternoon and then, when the sun emerged, started their seek-and-find venture in the sculpture garden. “Thank you for being open. A co-worker told us about the museum; we’re impressed!”
Visitors wrote, via the Museum’s digital guestbook, about being inspired by the rangoli artwork in the lower level and the time-lapse video, the sculpture garden, and paintings and sculptures. One visitor wrote: “We loved the outdoor space and bird art. Really friendly staff.”
Audrey Wilde and a friend spent a recent morning in the galleries looking closely at artworks, while sketching. Inspired by artwork in the Many Visions, Many Versions exhibition, Audrey drew this little bird and plans to title it “Who’s Coming to Dinner.”
Here’s a sampling of reviews posted earlier this year, highlighting what visitors appreciate.
• “Great art museum – I really enjoy that they get new exhibitions every few months. It keeps me coming back. I’ve gone here with my boyfriend and both of our families. Well maintained and clean place to enjoy art. Could spend a short amount of time or a few hours and have a good time.”
• “This is five-star Museum all the way – an excellent place to take your family. The paper art was mind boggling to see. I have a love for nature. The painting and sculpture are as real as they could make them. This is a must stop for the whole family.”
• “Wonderful staff, an interesting exhibition, beautiful sculpture outside; just anything you should want in a museum. I enjoyed this more than half the exhibits in D.C. and those were given far more space. Bigger doesn’t mean better, though, and this place proves it.”
• “Every visit is wonderful! Definitely worth a visit if you’ve never visited before.”
• “This art museum is a surprising jewel located in a beautiful and historic part of Wausau. A visit is well worth it.”
• “World-class exhibits, big city quality in a beautiful neighborhood. The outdoor setting and sculptures are amazing and constantly updated. The staff is knowledgeable and friendly.”
• “Birds in Art is must-see. Outdoor and indoor exhibitions are always great and there are participative activities that complement the main theme. Admission is free.”
• “Every exhibition is outstanding, the facility and grounds are beautiful, and the staff are open, friendly, and helpful but not intrusive. Perfect!”
As you seize these summer days, check the Museum’s website at www.lywam.org for specifics about what to bring and expect, visit often with others, and share your thoughts about your experience – using your cell phone or tablet – via the Museum’s digital guestbook.
We’ll certainly be grateful.