What Prompts Museum Visits?

By: Amy Beck, marketing and communications manager on May 21st, 2014

I’m always curious and fascinated to learn what brings Woodson Art Museum visitors through the doors. Volunteer greeters provide crucial insights when they jot down comments from their casual conversations with visitors.

In addition to cities from throughout Wisconsin and the Midwest, it’s exciting to see far-flung locations listed on these informal greeter surveys. Since last fall, visitors have hailed from Poland, Russia, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Latvia, Greece, Norway, and — during repeat visits — England and Scotland. Northcentral Technical College exchange students from Pakistan, Honduras, and El Salvador visited with host families. Visitors also traveled from many states throughout the country, from Hawaii to Maine.
A visitor views a painting near the Visitor Services desk.
Comments confirm that Woodson Art Museum visits round out and extend recreational trips to the Wausau area by overnight tourists here to ski at Granite Peak, splash in the waterpark at the Grand Lodge, curl and bowl at tournaments, and attend their children’s swim meets and other sporting events. Others combine business with pleasure. Several comments indicated spouses and family members visited the Museum while partners attended local meetings.

One visitor said he’d “researched places to visit in the Wausau area and the Woodson Art Museum was at the top of the list!” A repeat visitor from Brookfield on her way to Treehaven to make snowshoes said she “stayed in Wausau overnight so she could come to the Museum.” That same day, other visitors in town to attend “last night’s show at the Grand Theater came to see the Gromme artwork; we’re big Gromme fans.” Another December visitor said he’d found the Museum from “online research — son is snowboarding.” Four visitors from Illinois said they were “skiing tomorrow; museum visiting today.”

Interesting themes emerged from comments throughout a particularly harsh winter. Many visitors in town to ring in the New Year echoed similar comments: “skied at Granite Peak yesterday; too cold today!” Winter’s grip hadn’t loosened by January 10 when other skiers commented they’d visited the Museum “because this is not skiing weather. We loved this better than skiing.” A couple from Appleton said they “really appreciated the snow sculpture.” Two from Madison visited after seeing the Lake Superior ice caves. Four men from Chicago visited the Museum during their trip to Wausau for curling on February 13; the next day, the greeter noted “lots of curlers!”

Children look at a flea circus display during the Mystery, Magic, & Mayhem exhibitions.

Intergeneration visits are popular. A repeat visitor brought his mother — an artist and a docent at the Paine Art Center and Gardens in Oshkosh — who “loved our Museum,” the greeter wrote. A couple brought three grandchildren visiting from Illinois during their spring break; another grandparent reported she’d brought her two grandchildren from Madison. Two visitors drove from Eagle River when the son had an early release from school because the Museum “is pleasing both to the mom and her 15-year-old son.” A greeter noted that a little boy in his PJs told his mom, “I have to go to the Museum.”

Enthusiasm flows from repeat and first-time visitors alike. A student from Minocqua said, “I’ve been here before and I love this place!” A first-time visitor from Madison said he was “excited to come back this summer for the sculpture garden.”

Others are loyal visitors each year during the Birds in Art exhibition. “I drive 200 miles every year to see Birds in Art,” one visitor commented. Door County visitors reported “we come every year for Birds in Art.” An Illinois man said, “I’m a woodcarver and I’ve always wanted to come up and check out Birds in Art.”

Many others commented that they were “impressed with the renovations.” A visitor with a walker said he “very much appreciated the handicapped accessibility and push-to-open doors.”

A father and son interact in Art Park.

Others visited specifically for Art Park, the interactive family gallery in the lower level where themes change with each exhibition. A woman commented that she’d “loved the Museum through the years to entertain her children while on a limited budget – enriching activities at no cost.”

Greeters’notes verify that area instructors — from Wausau West High School art teachers to State College of Beauty Culture stylists — encourage their students to visit for inspiration.

A woman from Kenosha summed it up well when she told her sisters, “you’ve got to see this.” No matter the weather, nor what exhibitions are on view, I heartily agree! What prompts you to visit?

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