Spring, Oh Spring, Where Are You?

By: Jane Weinke, curator of collections/registrar on May 11th, 2011

I desperately want to proclaim that spring has arrived in Wausau but distinctly remember the 1970 Chiffon margarine ad “It’s not nice to fool (with) Mother Nature.” For now I’m content the weeklong local forecast does not once mention the “s” word. Cross your fingers that we’re rid of the cold, wet, white stuff for a few months.
Hopeful that spring has arrived, I have begun preparing the Woodson’s outdoor sculpture for heat, rain, and hail – basically winter’s opposite. This ongoing maintenance takes the majority of the summer to complete, this year by an intern who begins in early June.

An early sign of improved weather at the Woodson Art Museum is the removal of the white protective cover from Trumpeter Swans, Tony Angell’s beautiful Carrera marble sculpture. Once the snow and ice relents, so does the need to shield the stone from the freeze-thaw cycle that allows water to penetrate its natural fissures. The added pressure on the crevices enlarges them, causing instability in the marble. So far our zealous care has minimized damage.

Two sculptures are moved indoors from their respective fountain and pond locations each winter. Nearly forty hours of cleaning and waxing are required to return Duck Baby, a bronze water fountain by Edith Barretto Parsons, to pristine condition. The sculpture, which spends summer in the formal garden, needs extensive cleaning and waxing each winter. Once the work on Duck Baby is complete, Great Blue Heron by Walter Matia, will undergo the same process and then be returned to its summer home – the pond on the northwest grounds.

This summer a new permanent protective canopy will shade The Heavyweight, the wallowing hippo by Burt Brent in the Margaret Woodson Fisher Sculpture Garden. A temporary sunshade has protected visitors from the potentially hot bronze surface throughout the last several summers. The new sail-like structure will be installed within six to eight weeks and will provide protection from the sun and an interesting frame to the landscape. This project is made possible by a grant from the Orville and Geraldine Peterson Family Trust Fund of the Community Foundation of North Central Wisconsin.

Visit the Museum and grounds soon to enjoy the verdant gardens, thought- provoking sculpture, and serene atmosphere; bring along a lunch and stay awhile.

I’ll be completely convinced that spring has arrived when we have five consecutive days of sun and warm temps. Any wagers on when that will be?

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