This past Monday we were fortunate to celebrate our greeters and docents with a warm welcome at the Glass Box Studio for food, refreshments, and camaraderie. With schedules that might not overlap, volunteers and staff had time to catch up and enjoy each other’s company.
2023 is off to a busy and promising start at the Woodson Art Museum with new staff members hitting the ground running and all hands on deck working together to offer meaningful programs for the north central Wisconsin community.
This August, in between Birds in Art preparations and programming, the Woodson Art Museum staff offered new-docent training classes for a group of six community members. These enthusiastic and insightful future docents comprise two former physicians, an artist, a lawyer, a designer and amateur botanist, and a retired salesman who served as the Museum’s former fire extinguisher training instructor.
Throughout three origami exhibitions that concluded March 1, the Woodson Art Museum welcomed more than 1,100 students during class visits. Before closing – or folding – the book on origami and turning to upcoming exhibitions being installed this week., I’d like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the efforts of the Museum’s volunteer docents who guided students during the past twelve weeks.
Each year, as Birds in Art inevitably sneaks up on me, I consider ways to share and interpret the avian-themed artwork with Museum docents, visiting students, and program participants. The annual process of looking for serendipitous themes or popular subjects in Birds in Art begins in May, when fellow curator of education Lisa Hoffman and I view small, printed images of exhibition artworks spread out on the library table by administrative manager Shari Schroeder.
Finding ways to excite and intrigue students means getting creative. In my experience, the popular writing adage “it’s better to show than tell” applies when developing content for guided gallery experiences.
The Woodson Art Museum is really, truly BTYB – Brought To You By – volunteers. Dedicated, generous, curious, and enthusiastic volunteers make visitors feel welcomed, add beauty to our grounds, and engage thousands of school children each year.
Typically, the prospect of the holiday season isn’t one I’m enchanted by. Gift giving? Not my strong suit. Christmas music? Pass. Snow? Please. Side effects of the holiday season include five extra pounds, mandatory cheer, and sometimes hairy travel across state lines. I’m not a total Grinch, though; one seasonal symptom I can appreciate is a renewed sense of gratitude and connectedness.
Whenever I participate in some sort of large, group gathering for work, I always leave with “Post-it® Note promises,” whether literal or in the form of a mental note. These notes consist of follow-ups and reminders for myself stemming from conversations with members of the group. As is true for many people, meetings with staff or community members always yield mental notes, which are usually fairly easy to address and check off the list. Multi-day events, though, like the opening of Birds in Art is another story.
Perhaps it’s the holiday season that has me thinking about elves. Although at the Woodson Art Museum, elves really are busy year round. The elf vision that pops into my mind now – along with sugar plum fairies – is the magic-making variety. I’m specifically thinking this time of year about the Museum’s volunteer docents, who are responsible for magic-making experiences for visiting groups of all ages.