New Education Curator Joins the Flock

By: Catie Anderson, curator of education on October 26th, 2011

Because I hail from Chicago, you might think my life as a city dweller was devoid of nature and birds and that moving to northern Wisconsin during the Woodson Art Museum’s 36th annual Birds in Art exhibition may seem a bit foreign. Actually, I feel quite at home. Growing up in the city, I was lucky to have parents who encouraged outdoor time, especially birding. I often traveled to bird sanctuaries on Chicago’s lakefront to watch migratory visitors, and a love of birds – sparked there – has persisted. Throughout my life, I have participated in a variety of environmental activities, including Audubon youth programs and ornithological fieldwork at Beloit College. And someday I’d love to share the photographs I took of birds in the Galapagos Islands! My interests, experience, and fields of study range from museum studies to environmental politics to art history. To my surprise and delight, my post-college job search brought me to a Midwest museum that serendipitously combines so many of my interests.

As I learn more about the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum, I realize what an ideal match it is for my talents and interests.

Moving north from Chicago has been a big change, but also a welcome one. As a new curator of education I have many things to learn about shepherding the docent program and coordinating school visits. I know I will enjoy each challenge ahead. The staff, docents, and volunteers at the Museum all have helped make my transition a smooth, albeit busy, one.

During my first two weeks, I have been able to experience the diverse and creative public programming offered by the Woodson Art Museum. From “Green Fire” screenings and Art History 101 to school visits and Toddler Tuesday, the Museum is serving diverse communities. The Museum’s tradition of quality programming and exhibitions meets the high expectations of visitors time and time again – a tradition I am proud to be a part of now.

Starting at the Museum when I did, I missed the flurry of activity that comes with the installation and opening of Birds in Art. However, the excitement of visitors is fresh and allows me to understand the true appeal of the exhibition. High school students during a docent-led Experience articulated it perfectly, saying the exhibition is filled with the energy of both bird and artist. They noted the artists’ different perspectives and how the choices of medium and composition reflected the characters of birds and artists. I was impressed, as were other visitors who quietly listened and smiled as they overheard the conservations in the galleries.

The natural anxiety of settling into a new home is dissipating as I realize I’ve relocated to an intelligent, dedicated, and artistically sophisticated community. My welcome to Wausau and the Woodson Art Museum is turning into a “welcome home” for me.

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