‘Tis the season for checking online reviews before making holiday gift purchases, booking lodging, or planning itineraries of must-do activities.
“What people say about you is 12.85 times more important in driving your reputation than things that you pay to say about yourself,” writes Colleen Dilenschneider, chief market engagement officer at IMPACTS Research & Development, in her blog designed to provide data for cultural executives. “Which do you trust more?”
She asks and answers another question: how do reviews and social media play a critical role in museum visitation? “Reputation is a driver of visitation and social media drives reputation. Ergo, social media plays a critical role in driving visitation. It’s not an anecdote or a wish-upon-a-star. It’s just math.”
Although Colleen’s comments may not be surprising, they are encouraging because of the bounty of stellar comments visitors are posting in the wake of Woodson Art Museum visits.
Here’s a sampling of recent TripAdvisor reviews:
• “WOW! – This museum is a must see! The collection starts with the sculptures outside . . . a stroll through the gardens is a must! Many opportunities for photos. When you get inside, the collection is large and has a wide variety of mediums and interest. In the bird area, some of the pieces are so well done you think you are looking through the window at the real thing. It is amazing to see such a large collection in a place like Wausau. Great Job, Wausau!!”
• “Treasure trove of nature art – What a wonderful resource for the area. Any city would be happy to have this museum in its city limits.”
• “Birds in Art – If you like birds and art, you should put this on your calendar. Wonderful exhibition inside as well as the outside gardens.”
• “Family friendly – Took my kids and my little siblings here. It’s super family friendly and also great for an adult outing.”
• “Always free and always changing – This is a wonderful place to visit when in Wausau. The exhibitions are amazing and presented so well, too. Something for everyone.”
• “Worth Seeing! – My husband and I were very impressed with the museum and the bird exhibition. The works of art are juried and come from all over the world. The exhibit was much more expansive than I thought. Besides the pieces of art that are on display, the sculpture garden is also worth visiting because of its beauty, tranquility, and uniqueness of the sculptures. There is no charge for visiting but donations are accepted. Wausau can be very proud of being home to the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum.”
Facebook and Google reviews tell the tale, too:
• “My granddaughter and I love going to the museum. They change every few months to something new.”
• “Today we made the annual (for over 30 years) drive from Eau Claire to see Birds in Art. John thought this was the best Birds in Art ever. I think we think that every year, because they manage to curate amazing shows every year. If you’ve never gone, GO; what are you waiting for? Art is for the masses. It feeds a part of the heart, mind, and soul that cannot be fed in any other way.”
• “The volunteers and employees were very friendly and helpful.”
Here are a few recent highlights from the Museum’s digital guestbook.
• “A very peaceful, serene place.”
• “Beautiful and accessible.”
• “Birds in Art is an amazing annual event!”
• “Deep and educational; thank you.”
• “Fascinating and creative artworks.”
• “I love all the great artwork and the great stories that come with them.”
• “Inspires me to try other techniques in my art.”
• “The Museum has a beautiful charm. The mix of old bricks and modern design is genius!”
• “My favorite museum in Wisconsin!”
• “Peaceful environment in which to contemplate the carefully curated work of visionary artists.”
• “So beautiful, natural, and relaxing to look at and imagine.”
• “This is a family tradition of over 20 years.”
• “This is one of my favorite museums in the world.”
• “Wisconsin is definitely not flyover country when it comes to great art.”
• “Wonderful exhibitions, staff, and volunteers!”
• “Works are always inventive, creative, and beautifully displayed. We always look forward to Birds in Art. World class art.”
Volunteer greeters convey visitors’ comments, too.
• “This is amazing; I might be here all day. I’m coming back with people.”
• “Young student returning with mom and grandmother because they wanted to spend more time than their school tour allowed.”
• “A first-time visitor traveled from West Bend because a neighbor told them ‘you have to stop at the Woodson.’ ”
• “A lovely way to spend an afternoon.”
• “A gentleman has visited every fall with his wife. She passed last year but he’s keeping their tradition.”
• “ ‘Once you come once, you always come back,’ a visitor commented when she heard a man say he’s been coming to Birds in Art since the start in 1976.”
• “Visitors from Plano, Illinois, made the four-hour trip after hearing about the Museum from her art instructor and will be here for two days.”
• “Devoted visitors said ‘superb, as always’ and their first-time guest from Arizona said, ‘this place is stunning.’ ”
• “A couple has visited during Birds in Art for 44 years for her birthday celebration.”
• “ ‘Splendid’ and ‘best ever’ were comments by several visitors who have been coming for years. They love the presentation.”
• “A Minnesota couple came on Friday, liked it so much they bought a catalogue, wrote down their favorite artworks, and returned on Saturday for another look!”
As you make your winter plans, factor in these and other visitors’ comments recommending Woodson Art Museum visits. Collection exhibitions feature art of the natural world and the upcoming origami exhibitions, on view December 7 through March 1, will be extraordinary.
Don’t just take it from me, though; I’m always enthusiastic about the wonders that await here. Take it from visitors’ recent experiences. Visit soon and often; they’re convinced you’ll be glad you did and want to return frequently for more.