Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum Announces Retirement of Director Kathy Kelsey Foley

Assistant Director Matt Foss Named Her Successor

WAUSAU, WISCONSIN: The Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum in Wausau, Wisconsin, announced today that Director Kathy Kelsey Foley will retire December 31, 2022, and Assistant Director Matt Foss will assume the directorship on January 1, 2023.

Matt Foss and Kathy Foley at the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum

Foley has served as director twice, her first tenure from 1987-1991. She returned to the Woodson Art Museum as director in March 1998, guiding the institution for more than two decades. Her tenure has been highlighted by facility, staff, collection, and programmatic growth along with regional and national recognition.

“Thanks to Kathy’s leadership, the Woodson Art Museum has expanded and elevated the vision of the Founding Families, while celebrating our mission ‘To Enhance Lives through Art’ and maintaining the commitment to ‘Always Free Admission,’” stated Board President John Tubbs. He added, “Matt Foss has worked alongside Kathy for a dozen years and is highly qualified to lead the Museum and continue the high standards established by Kathy.”

Matt Foss said, “I am honored and humbled to become the next Director of the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum. I look forward to working with staff and volunteers to continue the standard of excellence set by Kathy and the Board of Directors. This is bittersweet for me personally because although I am happy for Kathy to retire after an unparalleled term as director, I will miss her daily presence as a mentor, co-worker, and friend.”

During Foley’s tenure, the Woodson Art Museum received its third re-accreditation from the American Alliance of Museums and most notably was recognized by the Institute of Museum and Library Services as one of only five museum recipients of the 2017 National Medal for Museum Service, an acknowledgment of the Woodson’s exceptional community service. The Woodson received the 2016 Wisconsin Governor’s Arts, Culture, and Heritage Tourism Award.

Foley’s dedication to the visual arts and to the museum field have been similarly lauded. She was inducted as a Fellow of the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts & Letters in 2014; received the Wisconsin Visual Art Achievement Award in 2016; and was honored by the Association of Midwest Museums in 2020 with the Distinguished Career Award.

Foley and Foss have worked together on multiple projects, including the Museum’s 2012 building addition, extensive subsequent interior renovations, and most recently, the debut of the Rooftop Sculpture Garden. Foss is currently overseeing the construction of the Glass Box Studio, which has received enthusiastic and generous support from community funders. Upon completion, the Glass Box Studio will enable the expansion of the Museum’s artist-residency program, guided by the creative and talented education and curatorial teams.

“My lengthy tenure at the Woodson Art Museum has been enormously rewarding,” Foley reflected. “I am most proud of the Museum staff and the dedication, creativity, and resiliency each demonstrates daily. Together, we tackled challenges, met deadlines, and dreamed big. I have been inspired by my co-workers as well as by Museum members and volunteers, the Founding Families whose steadfast commitment has manifested itself in so many ways, by many artists, and by the community at large to work hard to exceed expectations. I am confident in Matt’s ability to lead and in the team’s readiness to continue to excel.”

In recognition of Kathy’s service and accomplishments, the Museum’s Board of Directors awarded her the title Director Emerita.

About the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum

Matt Foss and Kathy Foley at the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum in the "Birds in Art" 2022 gallery

The Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum, in the heart of Wausau, Wisconsin, is known for its internationally acclaimed Birds in Art exhibition, which opens each fall on the weekend after Labor Day. All-new avian-themed interpretations in original paintings, sculptures, and graphics inspire in endless ways. The inaugural exhibition that helped launch the Museum’s opening in 1976 developed to become the Woodson Art Museum’s flagship and internationally renowned Birds in Art exhibition.
• Art of the natural world is the guiding spirit behind the paintings, works on paper, and sculpture in the Museum’s collection. The Woodson Art Museum’s historic and contemporary collection sets a world standard for avian- and nature-themed art.
• Diverse exhibitions throughout the year feature artwork from around the world.
• Enriching programs and events for all ages enliven exhibition themes.
• Committed to always-free admission, the Museum is a valued community resource and north central Wisconsin cultural attraction.

As the only full-service art museum in northern Wisconsin, the Woodson Art Museum offers a myriad of community engagement opportunities and maintains its more than four-decade commitment to always-free admission. The Woodson Art Museum provides visitors with barrier-free access to a vast array of visual-arts experiences including via ever-changing artwork in the galleries, the sculpture garden, Rooftop Sculpture Garden, and Art Park – the Museum’s interactive family gallery, visiting artists’ presentations and workshops, hands-on art making, and programs for all ages and life stages – from children and families to students during class visits and teens and adults. The Woodson Art Museum staff continually strives to provide audiences with quality, barrier-free art experiences through these and other programs that enliven and amplify themes from temporary changing exhibitions and Museum collection exhibitions.

Exterior view of the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum's main entrance

For more information, visit www.lywam.org, e-mail the Museum at info@lywam.org, call 715-845-7010, and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

For media outlets: to request high-resolution images to accompany news articles, send an email inquiry to abeck@lywam.org or info@lywam.org.

Woodson Art Museum Hours
Hours: Tuesday – Friday 9 am – 4 pm
First Thursday of each month 9 am – 7:30 pm
Every Thursday during Birds in Art 9 am – 7:30 pm
Saturday – Sunday Noon – 5 pm
Closed Monday & holidays, including New Year’s Day, Easter, July 4, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas
Admission: Always Free Admission
Phone: 715.845.7010
Email: info@lywam.org
Location: 700 N. 12th Street, Wausau, Wisconsin 54403-5007
(Franklin & 12th Streets)
Online: www.lywam.org


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