Inspiration from a Centenarian

By: Kathy Kelsey Foley, director on July 1st, 2020

Among the first visitors to the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum during our soft re-opening was member Betty McCleary.

As I approached the main entry area en route to the galleries, Betty’s eyes sparkled as she exclaimed, “Kathy, is that you?!”

Masks – now an essential sartorial accoutrement – have a way of altering our appearance, but can’t hide the smile that shows in our eyes. Certainly not in Betty’s.

A longstanding Woodson Art Museum member, Betty took delight in telling me how she couldn’t wait to return to her favorite museum and how among her most vivid childhood memories, growing up in Boston, was visiting the Museum of Fine Arts and Isabella Stewart Gardener Museum with her mother and sister.

Betty also told me she recently celebrated her 100th birthday, had a near-miss fall, but was doing just fine; her walker along for re-assurance. In fact, she proudly told me that she had driven herself to the Museum, from her home about 50 miles north of Wausau.

I was nearby when Betty prepared to leave. She was effusive in her praise for Many Visions, Many Versions: Art from Indigenous Communities in India, having read every explanatory label, and extolling the beauty of the many vibrantly patterned and boldly colored artworks. She’ll be back, she promised, for more Many Visions, Many Versions as well as for Birds in Art. She confirmed the opening date – Saturday, September 12 – as she made her way to her car and on to her next stop: lunch at The Mint.

What an inspiration.

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