The Who, What, Where, and Why of Woodson Art Museum Visitors

By: Amy Beck, marketing and communications manager on November 20th, 2012

Who are Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum visitors? What brings more than 50,000 people each year to the Museum for first, repeated, and frequent visits from throughout the Wausau area, region, country, and world?
Volunteer Museum greeters, in the course of their welcome, casually inquire and later note visitors’ responses to these questions to help give us valuable insights. The results are delightful!

Whether visitors migrate from throughout Wisconsin, Chicago, the Twin Cities, and the Midwest to see Birds in Art during fall-color getaways, come as first-time visitors – often from throughout the world – or as new residents forming an impression of the Wausau area’s cultural offerings, they’re genuinely wowed by the experience. I have a desk drawer filled with rave reviews.

  • “Top of the line in every way,” a day tripper from Door County said upon departure, echoing the sentiments of others. “I’ll be back with friends.”
  • “Family of three just moved here from Decatur, Alabama”
  • “Two from Minneapolis made a special trip to see the Museum – loved Birds in Art

Greeters’ surveys throughout the last six months have tallied international visitors from Thailand, Estonia, Puerto Rico, Germany, and the Netherlands. In addition to numerous travelers from throughout the Midwest, recent visitors have hailed from Oregon, California, Arizona, Utah, Texas, Colorado, Alabama, Virginia, North Carolina, and Washington D.C.

  • “Couple from south Florida comes frequently”
  • “Former Coloma residents are visiting from Alberta, Canada”

Interesting themes emerge from anecdotes, revealing what brings visitors through the Museum’s doors.
Loyalty – Comments confirm our belief that if you “try it, you’ll like it.”

  • “Been coming to Birds in Art for 30 years”
  • “Marshfield resident comes to every exhibition”
  • “Michigan residents visiting daughter in town – fourth time here”
  • “Wanted to come back again before the Botanicals exhibition left”

Enjoy Solo or with Family and Friends – Visitors combine Museum time with family and class reunions, weddings, graduations, conferences, out-of-town work assignments even extended hospital stays.

  • “Family of twelve that had gathered for a wedding in Westby drove three hours to visit the Museum.”
  • “Visiting from Alaska for family reunion”
  • “Brought a church group from West Africa”
  • “From Rhinelander, with granddaughter taking a break from visiting someone at the hospital here”

Fun – They come for refreshment, inspiration, respite, and fun – “here for a week for work” – as well as delight-filled, enriching, and memory-making interaction with those they bring – grandchildren, parents, friends, co-workers, and clients.

  • A frequent, in-town visitor said, “we wanted to bring our grandson to see the space exhibition – NASA | ART.”
  • “Brought little ones to play in Art Park”

Combined with Area Attractions – Visitors share a great experience here – with the added bonus of always-free admission – during a family afternoon outing, a day trip’s main event paired with a stop at a local restaurant, or as part of a multi-day getaway that includes skiing, the waterpark, a sports tournament, or a theatrical performance.

  • “Won a silent-auction package for Wausau B& B stay – referred by B& B.”
  • “First-time visitor from Minneapolis, heard about Museum from a friend, went to show at the Grand Theater last night.”
  • “Two groups asked for restaurant info – using maps for out-of-town guests”

Impress Guests with Cultural Gem – The Museum often tops the “must-see” list assembled by local residents hosting out-of-town guests or prospective employers wishing to convey a high quality of life.

  • “Wausau residents brought six from Arizona”
  • “Hosting foreign exchange students from Saudi Arabia and Peru”

Strong Reputation/ Recommendation – Visitors see articles and ads, columns and reviews in various area media and hear from neighbors and friends.

  • “Beloit resident has read about Woodson for years”
  • “I’ve heard about this (the Museum and Birds in Art) all my life”
  • “Goes to school in Marshfield, and friends said it was great!”

As Result of Community Outreach – The Museum serves more than 11,000 school children each year through class visits here and hosts exhibitions, collaborative programs, and events with varied community partners.

  • “Grandparents came back after accompanying school class visit”
  • “A co-worker’s daughter had art displayed”
  • “Heard Museum employee speak at Honor Flight spouses’ luncheon”

Treasure in Own Backyard – Other Wausau-area natives who moved away expressed during return visits how they’d come to appreciate the Woodson Art Museum and all it offers.

  • “Visitor from Maine who grew up in Wausau said the Museum was as beautiful as any she’s seen in the East.”
  • “Visitor from Washington state said the Woodson Art Museum exhibitions are equal to those at big city museums.”

Where else can you enjoy all of this and more – with always-free admission? I have the privilege of championing the Woodson Art Museum, and I think visitors do it best.
What brings you to the Woodson Art Museum? We’d love to hear your story!

Share This!

Subscribe to our weekly blog. Please enter your email address.