Wausau, Wisconsin: The Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum is the recipient of the 2016 Arts, Culture and Heritage tourism award, announced at the conclusion of the Governor’s Conference on Tourism this week in Wisconsin Dells.
The Governor’s Tourism Awards recognize outstanding contributions to the state’s hospitality and travel industry through “commitment to excellence, achievements, dedication, and leadership,” according to the Wisconsin Department of Tourism’s March 16 press release.
Kathy Kelsey Foley, Woodson Art Museum director, expressed her delight and gratitude: “On behalf of everyone – staff, volunteers, members, and all visitors – who contributes to the museum’s success, I gratefully accept this coveted award. We are humbled by its significance and invite the community to share in our joy as this recognition is a reflection of the region’s support for the Woodson Art Museum.”
In honoring the museum’s achievements with the 2016 award, the Governor’s Council on Tourism noted that “for 40 years, visitors from around the world have discovered the natural and artistic beauty found at the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum. Every year, the museum draws more than 50,000 national and international visitors for its flagship Birds in Art exhibition, impressive temporary exhibitions, and diverse cultural programs. Visitors to the museum have had an estimated $1.3 million economic impact on the Wausau area.” The Museum’s 40th anniversary “acts as a reminder of the impact the museum has had on Northern Wisconsin and the rest of the state.”
Throughout four decades, the Woodson Art Museum – the only full-service art museum in northern Wisconsin – has become a regional arts and cultural resource and tourist destination by offering world-class art exhibitions and programs, admission free. Changing temporary exhibition themes – from upcycled couture and iconic guitars to origami and Tiffany glass – provide varied art-engagement opportunities for all through programs tailored to illuminate those themes. The current exhibition, Walter Wick: Games, Gizmos, and Toys in the Attic on view through May 29, comprises large-scale photographs and three-dimensional models depicting visual riddles, puzzles, and optical illusions by the photographic illustrator of iconic I SPY and other Scholastic Inc. books. The 39th annual Student Art exhibition, on view through April 3, celebrates Youth Art Month and the artistic endeavors of north central Wisconsin students in grades 9-12.
With its mission to enhance lives through art, the Woodson Art Museum provides barrier-free access by developing art-making programs for visitors of all ages and abilities – from babies, school children, teens, adults, and grandparents to individuals with special needs, vision impairments, and memory loss – and through its commitment to always-free admission.
“Wisconsin’s scenic beauty and iconic attractions continue to bring travelers to the state, but it’s the passion of individuals and organizations in the hospitality industry that keep people returning here year after year” said Governor Scott Walker about the award recipients. “These six honorees are dedicated to great customer service and creative projects that grow the tourism economy.”
Area residents and tourists enjoy outdoor beauty – no matter the weather – year round via artwork from the museum’s collection and each fall during Birds in Art, along with the opportunity to meet accomplished artists from throughout the world. The Woodson Art Museum also enhances and extends trips of tourists here for other, often weather-dependent, reasons. Those who visit the area for ski trails, sports tournaments, kayak competitions, or birding excursions can enjoy art of the natural world from the museum’s collection year round in the galleries and sculpture garden.
Current exhibitions from the museum’s collection, for example, feature avian themes. Audubon to Wyeth: Paintings, Drawings, and Sculptures, on view through December 31, comprises a dazzling, historic array of bird imagery in artworks spanning the early-nineteenth through late-twentieth centuries. Out of the Vault, focuses on six bird species – mallards, bluebirds, ravens, chickadees, downy woodpeckers and wood ducks – through a sampling of mediums that yield distinctly different artistic interpretations. Capturing Nature: Owen J. Gromme, on view through August 7, includes compositions that integrate the bird and its surroundings. Making Marks, which opens April 9, features a selection of avian-themed drawings that range from quick sketches to intricately detailed illustrations, highlighting artists’ varied approaches and the importance of field observation.
Woodson Art Museum member and volunteer Linda Haney, who nominated the museum for the 2016 Governor’s Tourism Award, said, “I hope the whole community congratulates the Woodson Art Museum on a much-deserved honor. If you haven’t been yet, go; you’ll love it.”
This year’s tourism award nominees “work day in and day out to embody our mission of making Wisconsin the premier destination for fun in the Midwest,” said Tourism Secretary Stephanie Klett. “Each and every nominee sets the bar high for their peers in the tourism industry. Our six honorees should be proud to have been selected from such an outstanding pool of talent.”
The Governor’s Tourism Awards recipients “represent the best of the best in the tourism industry,” said Sarah Klavas, Wisconsin Department of Tourism deputy secretary, in the March issue of the Travel Wisconsin newsletter.
2016 Governor’s Tourism Award recipients:
- Arts, Culture and Heritage: Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum, Wausau
- Stewardship Award: Meuer Farm, Chilton
- Service Excellence Award: James Bolen, executive director, Cable Area Chamber of Commerce
- Rising Star Award: Tim Hyma, executive director, Sparta Area Chamber of Commerce
- Legacy Award (two individuals received the 2016 award): Allen Schroeder, Historic Site director, Pendarvis, Stonefield Historic Site and First Capitol Historic Site and Charles Wikenhauser, director, Milwaukee County Zoo
For more information about the 2016 Governor’s Tourism Awards recipients, visit http://artsboard.wisconsin.gov/docview.asp?docid=27309&locid=171
In nominating the Woodson Art Museum for the 2016 Governor’s Tourism Award, Haney wrote: “Because new ways to serve visitors are always being explored, tourists and community newcomers are welcomed and thrilled that such a high quality museum is part of what entices people to travel and move to Wausau. . . . our community, region, and state are deeply enriched because of this treasured Museum – the best ambassador for the state of Wisconsin that I can imagine. We love the Woodson Art Museum and feel passionately about its ability to delight everyone with ‘gift-package’ art experiences again and again.”
Woodson Art Museum
First Thurs each month 9am–7:30pm
Thurs during Birds in Art 9am–7:30pm
Closed Mon & holidays, including New Year’s Day, Easter, July 4, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas
Admission: Always Free Admission
Location: Franklin and 12th Streets, Wausau, Wisconsin 54403-5007
(700 N. Twelfth Street)