Arts, Culture, and History

Wausau is known as 'Arts Town, USA' due to its commitment to the arts, ranking number one in the nation for per-capita support of the arts in cities with a population under 125,000.  From live Broadway productions at The Grand Theater, to the wonderful exhibits at the Woodson Art Museum and the Center for the Visual Arts, to the incredible architecture of the Andrew Warren Historic District – it is easy to see how we got this prestigious designation!


The Wausau area’s thriving arts community offers an intriguing variety of visual arts.  You can always count on a fascinating exhibition at the Woodson Art Museum, including their annual Birds in Art exhibition with more than 120 all-new original artworks from around the world interpreted in oil, watercolor, the graphic arts, bronze and stone.  A total of ten to twelve exhibitions throughout the year bring the world of art to north central Wisconsin at this always free museum.  The Center for the Visual Arts has rotating exhibits that showcase the works of local and regional artists in the Caroline S. Mark Gallery and the newly renovated Vault Gallery. The new Wausau Museum of Contemporary Art is already becoming a Central Wisconsin treasure, providing unique exhibits and experiences. WMOCA inspires visitors from throughout the nation to understand and appreciate the art of our time.


If you are looking for some unique activities or culture you can find it here in Marathon County.  Music abounds at venues like Whitewater Music Hall to the 400 Block outdoor stage.  There is ballet, classical symphony, local community theater and agricultural enrichment.  Wausau is also home to the Hmong Museum.  From Laos to America, the museum tells the story of the Hmong culture and how they made their way into Central Wisconsin.  You can also visit the Wausau World Market, or check out the Hmong Festival in August.


Few people have had as great an impact on Wausau/Central Wisconsin as Walter McIndoe.  When McIndoe arrived in the late 1840's, the area was called Big Bull Falls.  He played a major role in renaming the town Wausau, a Chippewa word meaning "a far away place," and became known himself as the Father of Wausau.

McIndoe was also instrumental in establishing Marathon County on February 9, 1850.  At that time the county stretched all the way to Lake Superior, and Wausau was named the county seat.  Today, Marathon County is the largest of Wisconsin’s 72 counties and continues to prosper from the efforts of those in the past.  More history can be found at The Marathon County Historical Society.

Wausau and Central Wisconsin has a variety of theater and performing arts to entertain audiences both young and old.