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WAM Updates are short, informal posts that put the spotlight on small, but exciting, Museum-related projects, such as the addition of a new painting or sculpture to a gallery. They also serve as updates on staff, new services or programs, and other WAM news.

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Friday, January 17, 2020

Flora in Winter: Behind the Scenes

Flora in Winter is the biggest event of the year for the Worcester Art Museum. Every January, thousands of visitors come to see our galleries bloom with dozens of floral works, bringing a bit of spring to the dead of winter. The highlight of the four-day event is the Interpretive Floral Designs, two dozen captivating arrangements by some of the region’s top florists, paired with and interpreting selected artworks throughout the Museum. But what does it take to plan an event on this scale?

Designers may choose to focus their interpretation on
color, shape, light effects, or any other aspect.
Here is a summary of the year-long process, according to WAM Director of Education and Experience Marnie Weir:

February/March: Pre-planning begins almost immediately after the previous Flora ends! WAM staff members meet with our Flora Co-Chairs: Kim Cutler, Kathy Michie and Sarah Ribeiro. The team makes decisions on priority issues, including dates and themes for the coming year – this year’s theme is Epic Bloom!

Commercial arrangements occupy
public Museum spaces.
Spring: Our departments of Education and Registration begin selecting the artworks for interpretation. This is no easy decision. Do we want to highlight popular works or draw attention to lesser-known ones? Which works have been interpreted in recent years? Are some of the choices scheduled to go on loan, or be cycled out of the Galleries before January? Locations for commercial arrangements are also selected – works by garden clubs and professional florists, placed in public spaces such as the Lancaster Lobby and Renaissance Court balcony.

Late Summer/Early Fall: Invitations (and a list of selected artworks) are mailed to our selected arrangers, who RSVP with their top choices. We do our best to match designers with their first or second choices! Once these are finalized, arrangers can begin planning their creations, sending us updates on their plans, inspirations and designs.

Fall: Now that the arrangers are settled, it’s time to think about everything else – we contact performers, caterers and other talent for the Friday night Flora party, and we begin developing related programming for the weekend. We also start to get the word out, including a “Save the Date” on our website and plans for printed fliers and social media.

December: The entire four-day schedule is finalized, and Marketing produces the promotional fliers, which are mailed to several thousand constituents, including many Massachusetts garden clubs. Meanwhile, our volunteer docents begin planning their tours – doing further research on the selected artworks, and sharing their knowledge of botany and floral design.

January: With all of the paperwork finalized, we design and print specialized Flora in Winter maps, showing the location of every arrangement throughout the Museum, alongside statements provided by the arrangers. Nearly every staff member will be involved in some way over the four-day event, so we all participate in training and preparation to ensure everything goes smoothly.

Tuesday: With Martin Luther King Day on Monday, nearly all the prep work must be done on Tuesday, while the Museum is closed to the public. Galleries are set up with pedestals and tables for the arrangements, lighting is prepared, and additional signs are posted to point the way to workshops and lectures. There is also often some final coordination with outside performers and businesses.

Wednesday: Commercial arrangers deliver their works and set them up throughout the public spaces.

Visitors can enjoy art and arrangements together!
Thursday: At 6 AM, arrangers and staff begin to arrive. Most of the arrangements are at least partially pre-made, but our designers know to expect anything – it can sometimes take as much as two hours to get every detail right! Once all designs are complete and gallery spaces cleaned, the docents have a special tour to see the finished arrangements and discuss ideas and interpretations. Finally, doors are opened to the public at 10 AM!

There is no event at WAM quite like Flora, and we hope you will take the opportunity to see our galleries in bloom.

Learn more about the event – including programming schedule and prices – on our website!

Sarah Leveille
Digital Media Specialist
January 17, 2020

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