Exhibits Help Drive Visitor Traffic at Wright Museum

While often viewed by the public as static entities, the most successful cultural institutions constantly change, which explains why Wright Museum puts tremendous effort into its rotating exhibits.

“Almost six years ago when we did not have changing special exhibits, our attendance was below 12,000,” Wright Executive Director Mike Culver said. “Last year, we had 19,000 visitors, and we may exceed that this year. I attribute much of our nearly 70% increase in 6 years to changing exhibits.”

In 2019, Wright Museum opened with the “Righting a Wrong: Japanese Americans and World War II” exhibit, which was curated by the Smithsonian and ran from May 1 to July 7. May and June saw new attendance records broken.

Opening on July 14, the exhibit, “Esquire Magazine: The World War II Years,” helped set an attendance record for the month of July, explained Culver.

The exhibit honors the Esquire Magazine, which evolved into a general-audience magazine that focused on aspects of American style and culture during WWII. 

“For the month of July, we broke our all-time attendance record, so I think the show has been a big hit,” he added.

“Esquire Magazine: The World War II Years,” runs through September 8after which time it will be followed by “The Last Good War: The Faces and Voices of World War II.”

Sponsored by Taylor Community and The Weirs Times, this exhibit will tell stories of WWII veterans and civilians through photographs taken by Thomas Sanders. 

“The large-format photos of these men and women are iconic,” said Culver. 

“These are ‘ancient oracles’ that wear their years on their faces with the same pride that they have when they speak about their personal experiences during WWII… I am sure it will move many people.”

For Culver, though, success of these exhibits comes at a hidden cost.

“I am already planning next year’s exhibit,” he laughed. “We never stop.”