The Art of Tourism

By: Matt Foss on March 13th, 2024

Good morning from Lake Geneva! No, I’m not here on vacation, although the scenery, restaurants, and resorts make the prospect tempting. I have been in Lake Geneva the last three days for the Wisconsin Governor’s Council on Tourism Conference. Held in a different Wisconsin location each year, the Wisconsin Governor’s Council on Tourism (WIGCOT) is an annual celebration of all things related to tourism in the state. Convention and Visitors Bureaus, cultural destinations, hoteliers, and government officials all get together to learn from each other and receive an assessment on how the state is attracting tourists.

This image shows Lake Geneva with blue sky above

The Museum’s Marketing and Communication Manager Bryce Cebula and I have been busy attending conference sessions, meeting friends old and new, and learning some valuable tips to incorporate at the Woodson. Perhaps the most insightful moment of the conference was being able to spend some time chatting with Maria Rosario Jackson, the Chair of the National Endowment for the Arts. As the theme of this year’s conference was “The Art of Tourism,” it is only right that the arts took center stage.

This image shows Matt Foss and Bryce Cebula in front of a large outline of Wisconsin

While Wisconsin has made a major push recently to promote outdoor tourism (and rightly so), too often Wisconsin’s cultural attractions – including art museums – are afterthoughts. With so many outstanding organizations providing valuable opportunities for community members to engage with the arts, this should not be the case.

A renewed focus on the arts was partially the impetus behind Wisconsin Art Destinations, a collective of thirteen art museums around the state who are working together to increase tourism at our respective institutions and the communities we operate in. Just like any group of organizations, working together strengthens the whole. It was great last night to see a fellow member of the collective, the Paine Art Center and Gardens in Oshkosh, take home the Arts, Culture and Heritage Award from Governor Tony Evers. The Woodson Art Museum won this same award in 2016, serving as a reminder of the important and innovative work that all members of Wisconsin Art Destinations do daily.

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