Next Stop: 12th Street

By: Dave Jones, facilities manager on January 31st, 2024

I’ve received any number of off the wall, or on the wall, project proposals in support of exhibition development at the Woodson Art Museum. My coworkers visit my office in the Museum’s workshop bringing ideas and reference photos that could lead to interactives used in Art Park, or tangible items to support artworks and exhibitions. My latest project at the Museum bridges interactive and support as it is an interpretation of the historic architecture of the New York City subway stations and a functional seating object for Museum visitors.

Image of a long bench with center deviders with subway tiles on the wall behinds that say 33rd st

Assistant Director and Collections Curator Amalia Wojciechowski recently visited the workshop with several reference photos and a proposal to build a subway station bench to complement the new permanent collection exhibition A Civic Wilderness, now on view through June 16. With the photos, dimension needed to fit the bench in the “oval room” of the Museum’s South Galleries, and words of encouragement, I was off and running. There was only one problem. I didn’t have the right materials.

Two images side by side left is of a warehouse with boards wooden boards on the snow and the right is of dozens wood slabs in a basement stacked and leaning against the wall

Fortunately, I was told about an old warehouse basement that was full of an astonishing array of live-edged slabs of wood from native northern Wisconsin tree species. I knew this would be the perfect place to find the oversized lumber required for this project. On a Thursday afternoon, I selected four large pine boards and one week later, they transformed into the bench that is currently installed in A Civic Wilderness.

Two photos are side by side the left is of the A Civic Wilderness Galleries with an entry way opening into the oval gallery where two poeple sit on a bench they are facing forward and we see the back of the bench there are small yellow artworks on the wall and the second image is of the front of the bench with the same artworks above as they are wrapping around the ovular room

It’s not often when Wausau and New York come together. When it does, I’m game. However, I am thankful she didn’t ask me to make turnstiles.

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