Woodson Art Museum Recognized as Finalist for 2017 National Medal for Museum and Library Service

 Public encouraged to share stories of Woodson Art Museum’s excellence on IMLS Facebook page on April 3

WAUSAU, WISCONSIN (March 20, 2017) – The Institute of Museum and Library Services today announced that for the second consecutive year, the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum in Wausau, Wisconsin, is a National Medal finalist for Museum and Library Service. The National Medal is the nation’s highest honor given to museums and libraries for service to the community.

As a 2017 National Medal finalist, the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum is one of three art museums among the 15 museums and 15 libraries named National Medal finalists by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, a federal agency supporting the nation’s 123,000 libraries and approximately 35,000 museums.

Finalists are chosen because of their significant and exceptional contributions to their communities. For 23 years, the award has celebrated institutions that demonstrate extraordinary and innovative approaches to public service and are making a difference for individuals, families and communities.

“The 2017 National Medal Finalists represent the leading museums and libraries that serve as catalysts for change in their communities,” said Dr. Kathryn K. Matthew, director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services. “It is our honor to recognize 30 notable institutions for their commitment to providing programs and services that improve the lives of individuals, families and communities. We salute them and their valuable work in providing educational opportunities to their community and celebrate the power libraries and museums can have across the country.”

IMLS is encouraging community members who visited the Woodson Art Museum to share their story on the IMLS Facebook page at www.facebook.com/USIMLS on Monday, April 3. To Share Your Story and learn more about how these institutions make an impact, please visit www.facebook.com/USIMLS.

Woodson Art Museum director Kathy Kelsey Foley credited the community’s enthusiasm for embracing the full range of engagement opportunities and propelling staff to continually raise the bar. “It is a privilege to share observations and firsthand experiences of how a visit to the Woodson Art Museum can change someone’s point of view, expand their understanding of the world beyond the community, or brighten a day,” she said. “Recognition of the Woodson Art Museum by the Institute of Museum and Library Services as a finalist for the National Medal for Museum and Library Service is among the highest forms of validation, not only for those of us who work in the museum field, but also that can be appreciated by community members at large. Being honored as a National Medal finalist brings recognition to the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum from a federal agency on a national stage. We are grateful beyond words.”

Comprising the 30 National Medal finalists are 15 libraries and 15 museums, which include three art museums, five children’s museums, three science institutions, two historical institutions, the Detroit Zoological Society, and the Alaska State Museum. The three art museums are the Museum of Contemporary Art in San Diego, California, the Aspen Art Museum in Colorado, and the Woodson Art Museum. To see the full list of finalists and learn more about the National Medal, visit www.imls.gov/2017-medals.

The National Medal winners will be announced later this spring. The representatives from winning institutions will travel to Washington, D.C., to be honored at the National Medal award ceremony.

In addition to being named a National Medal finalist in 2016 and 2017, the Woodson Art Museum also was the 2016 winner of the Wisconsin Governor’s Arts, Culture, and Heritage tourism award.

With its mission “to enhance lives through art,” 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, 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 babies, children, and families to students during class visits and teens and adults.

Woodson Art Museum programs enliven and amplify themes from temporary changing exhibitions, ranging from Tiffany Studios leaded-glass lampshades and M.C. Escher lithographs to each new iteration of the Museum’s internationally renowned “Birds in Art” presented each fall. The Woodson Art Museum’s historic and contemporary collection sets a world standard for avian- and nature-themed art.

Themes from these ever-changing exhibitions are woven throughout programs that span the age and life-stage spectrum – from Art Babies, launched in 2009 for little ones and accompanying adults, to SPARK!, created in 2010 for individuals with early- to mid-stage memory loss and their loved ones or care partners. Art Beyond Sight, implemented in 2006, provides multisensory ways for individuals with blindness or low vision to experience the visual arts.

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.

About the Institute of Museum and Library Services

The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) is celebrating its 20th Anniversary. The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and approximately 35,000 museums. Our mission is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. Our grant making, policy development, and research help libraries and museums deliver valuable services that make it possible for communities and individuals to thrive. To learn more, visit www.imls.gov and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Click on the following underlined URL links to access high-resolution images. Please include the caption with each corresponding image used.


Woodson Art Museum volunteers guide school groups through galleries featuring changing exhibitions, artwork from the collection, and the sculpture garden. Docents facilitate thoughtful dialogue through hands-on materials, storytelling, and interactive questions, and Museum educators and visiting artists lead hands-on art making. Photo by Richard Wunsch, Wausau.



Yes! Touching this tactile artwork was encouraged for visitors of all ages. All Woodson Art Museum visitors discovered new ways to “look” at art through touch during Ann Cunningham’s exhibition of tactile sculpture and this “Birds in Art” 2016 low-relief, slate sculpture. Cunningham also worked with Art Beyond Sight participants during her “Forest Folklore” exhibition of tactile sculpture in December 2015. Photo by Richard Wunsch, Wausau.



Dynamic Woodson Art Museum artist residencies, offered since 1999, involve and engage students and adults in hands-on learning. Gene Reineking in November 2016 taught students soapstone-sculpting techniques. Visiting artists offer insights on diverse mediums through site-specific installations and demonstrations as varied as printing oversized woodcuts with a steamroller, an upcycled couture fashion show, and bentwood furniture making using a steam box. Photo by Richard Wunsch, Wausau.



Art Beyond Sight, a Woodson Art Museum program since 2006 that offers multisensory ways for individuals with blindness or low vision to experience the visual arts, focused on “Tiffany Glass: Painting with Color and Light” in January 2017. Participants explored through touch the textures of a form used to created leaded-glass lampshades that illuminated the galleries with their warm glow during the Wisconsin winter. Photo by Richard Wunsch, Wausau.



Elsewhere, snow is shoveled, thrown, and blown; at the Woodson Art Museum, it becomes ephemeral art. In 2017, this eight-foot-tall illuminated snow globe celebrated an exhibition of luminous Tiffany Studios leaded lampshades that glowed throughout the Museum’s galleries. Each winter since 1990, Team USA has created snow sculpture at the Museum to complement exhibitions. Wisconsin artists Mike Martino, Tom Queoff, and Mike Sponholtz have demonstrated their competitive skills around the world, winning a bronze medal at the 1998 Winter Olympics and building a loyal fan base in Wausau, Wisconsin. Photo by Richard Wunsch, Wausau.



Celebrating a focus on avian art, this site-specific sculpture of two thirty-foot sandhill cranes, titled “The Dance,” was created in June 2016 by Andy Moerlein and Donna Dodson, known as The Myth Makers. More than 500 saplings were harvested in the Wausau, Wisconsin, area and trimmed by Museum staff and volunteers to enable The Myth Makers to construct “The Dance.” This photo of Andy and Donna on June 25, 2016 shows them proudly in front of their finished sculpture on the Woodson Art Museum campus. Photo by Richard Wunsch, Wausau.



Among the Museum’s most popular recent educational offerings was the summer 2016 “Design Lab” held in mid-July. Here, children ages 5-8, under the tutelage of Woodson Art Museum educators, designed and re-purposed chairs, inspired by the exhibition on view, “The Art of Seating: 200 Years of American Design.” Once complete, these young designers’ chairs were included in an exhibition showcasing their work at the Woodson Art Museum. Photo by Richard Wunsch, Wausau.



Fire from a blow torch attracts a crowd during Artists in Action, a dynamic component of the public opening of the Museum’s flagship exhibition “Birds in Art,” during which artists demonstrate their work. On September 10, 2016, Maryland-based sculptor Paul Rhymer showed how different patinas are created for bronze sculptures. Photo by Richard Wunsch, Wausau.



From its opening day on Saturday, March 4, 2017, the iconic work of Dutch artist M.C. Escher has drawn both rave reviews and record-setting crowds to the Woodson Art Museum for “M.C. Escher: Reality and Illusion.” Featuring more than 100 drawings, woodcuts, lithographs, and mezzotints, news of this exhibition has spread like wildfire thanks to a social media campaign fueled by a Wisconsin Department of Tourism Joint Effort Marketing grant. Photo by Richard Wunsch, Wausau

2017 National Medal finalist graphic, (high-resolution version for print) 

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

Woodson Art Museum Hours
Tues–Fri 9am–4pm
First Thurs of each month 9am–7:30pm
Thursdays during Birds in Art 9am–7:30pm
Sat–Sun Noon–5pm
Closed Mon & holidays, including New Year’s Day, Easter, July 4, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas

Admission: Always Free Admission
Phone: 715.845.7010
Email: museum@lywam.org
Location: 700 N. 12th Street (Franklin & 12th Streets), Wausau, Wisconsin 54403-5007
Online: www.lywam.org


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