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Woodson Art Museum director to retire

Woodson Art Museum director to retire Woodson Art Museum director to retire

Assistant Director Matt Foss to take over on January 1 as her successor

The Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum in Wausau, announced that Director Kathy Kelsey Foley will retire December 31, and Assistant Director Matt Foss will assume the directorship on January 1.

Foley has served as director twice, her first tenure from 1987-1991. She returned to the Woodson Art Museum as director in March 1998, guiding the institution for more than two decades. Her tenure has been highlighted by facility, staff, collection, and programmatic growth along with regional and national recognition.

“Thanks to Kathy’s leadership, the Woodson Art Museum has expanded and elevated the vision of the Founding Families, while celebrating our mission ‘To Enhance Lives through Art’ and maintaining the commitment to ‘Always Free Admission,’” stated Board President John Tubbs. He added, “Matt Foss has worked alongside Kathy for a dozen years and is highly qualified to lead the Museum and continue the high standards established by Kathy.” Matt Foss said, “I am honored and humbled to become the next Director of the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum. I look forward to working with staff and volunteers to continue the standard of excellence set by Kathy and the Board of Directors. This is bittersweet for me personally because although I am happy for Kathy to retire after an unparalleled term as director, I will miss her daily presence as a mentor, co-worker, and friend.”

During Foley’s tenure, the Woodson Art Museum received its third re-accreditation from the American Alliance of Museums and most notably was recognized by the Institute of Museum and Library Services as one of only five museum recipients of the 2017 National Medal for Museum Service, an acknowledgment of the Woodson’s exceptional community service. The Woodson received the 2016 Wisconsin Governor’s Arts, Culture, and Heritage Tourism Award.

Foley’s dedication to the visual arts and to the museum field have been similarly lauded. She was inducted as a Fellow of the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts & Letters in 2014; received the Wisconsin Visual Art Achievement Award in 2016; and was honored by the Association of Midwest Museums in 2020 with the Distinguished Career Award. Foley and Foss have worked together on multiple projects, including the Museum’s 2012 building addition, extensive subsequent interior renovations, and most recently, the debut of the Rooftop Sculpture Garden. Foss is currently overseeing the construction of the Glass Box Studio, which has received enthusiastic and generous support from community funders. Upon completion, the Glass Box Studio will enable the expansion of the Museum’s artist-residency program, guided by the creative and talented education and curatorial teams.

“My lengthy tenure at the Woodson Art Museum has been enormously rewarding,” Foley reflected. “I am most proud of the Museum staff and the dedication, creativity, and resiliency each demonstrates daily. Together, we tackled challenges, met deadlines, and dreamed big. I have been inspired by my co-workers as well as by Museum members and volunteers, the Founding Families whose steadfast commitment has manifested itself in so many ways, by many artists, and by the community at large to work hard to exceed expectations. I am confident in Matt’s ability to lead and in the team’s readiness to continue to excel.”