This Medal Is Your Medal

By: Amy Beck, marketing and communications manager on July 5th, 2017

Although not a superstitious person, I’m not going to wash my car for the next month. That might make it rain. Nope, I certainly don’t want to be responsible for that.

Not a farmer nor a forecaster, I’m usually sanguine about the weather, shrugging while others fret. “You can’t control the weather,” I often remind my mother, who’s a weather-watching maven. I will be, too, during upcoming weeks.

Sunshine and dry skies are needed for my oldest son’s outdoor wedding this month – no hope for dry eyes – and the Woodson Art Museum’s 2017 National Medal community celebration on Thursday, August 3, 4-7 pm, in the sculpture garden. Save that August 3 date; we hope the community will bask in the glow of the Museum’s recognition as a winner of the 2017 National Medal for Museum and Library Service – the nation’s highest museum honor for service to the community.

Director Kathy Kelsey Foley, volunteer and award nominator Linda Haney, and Board member Alice Smith – who’s also the granddaughter of Leigh Yawkey Woodson, the Museum’s namesake – will travel to Washington D.C. to represent the Museum during the July 17, non-weather-dependent, award ceremony – indoors, at the National Archives and Records Administration building. The award will be presented by Institute of Museum and Library Services director Dr. Kathryn K. Matthew during the ceremony also featuring special guest, journalist, and author Cokie Roberts, and remarks by the Archivist of the United States, David Ferriero.

Why host a community celebration at the Museum in Wausau? Winning the National Medal is recognition we all share, and we want to thank the community for its continued enthusiasm for and support of the Museum.

Winners are chosen by the Institute of Museum and Library Services because of their significant and exceptional contributions to their communities. Receiving “the highest recognition awarded by the federal government to museums and libraries for service to their communities,” an IMLS press release states, “selected institutions demonstrate extraordinary and innovative approaches to public service, exceeding the expected levels of community outreach.”

Foley credits the community’s and region’s enthusiasm for embracing the full range of engagement opportunities and propelling staff continually to raise the bar.

The 2017 National Medal winners “play a critical role as community catalysts and provide vital resources that drive economic development, foster community well-being and spark neighborhood revitalization,” said Dr. Kathryn K. Matthew, director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Winning the National Medal is “among the highest forms of validation, not only for those of us who work in the museum field, but also that can be appreciated by community members at large,” Foley said. “Being honored as a National Medal winner brings recognition to the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum from a federal agency on a national stage. We are grateful beyond words.”

Plan to join us, 4-7 pm, in the sculpture garden for a block-party-like celebration. Enjoy refreshments, listen to music from the John Greiner Jazz Trio, write your insights and reflections on a comment wall, and snap photos with family and friends while sporting National Medal replicas. Celebrate being a part of the Museum’s winning team.

Allusions to the Olympics are no accident. The Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum is one of only two art museums among the five museums and five libraries named 2017 National Medal winners by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, a federal agency supporting the nation’s approximately 123,000 libraries and 35,000 museums, all of which were eligible for the award.

We won’t be resting on laurels, though. “Winning the National Medal is incredibly empowering; this makes us want to do more,” said Woodson Art Museum director Kathy Kelsey Foley. “We want everyone to know there is something here that will pique curiosity and engage; just give us a try.”

Consider this your invitation to invite others to visit the Museum, soon, often, and on August 3.

Also – as a perk of winning the National Medal – this fall, StoryCorps – a national nonprofit dedicated to recording, preserving, and sharing the stories of Americans – will visit the Woodson Art Museum, October 19-21, to document stories from our community.

What’s your Museum-related story? How have experiences with others here impacted your life? Let us know by emailing; perhaps you’ll be selected to tell your tale during recorded conversations that will be preserved at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.

We love hearing your stories. “It is a privilege,” Foley said. “to share observations and firsthand experiences of how a visit to the Woodson Art Museum can change someone’s point of view, expand their understanding of the world beyond the community, or brighten a day.”

Rain or shine.


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