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November 17, 2023

EXCLUSIVE: A behind the scenes look at Fernbank’s Winter Wonderland

The holidays are such a magical time of the year! It's a time of togetherness and celebration for families all over the world. Not only do the holidays encompass fun quality time with loved ones, but most importantly they feature traditions that have been passed down over generations. Traditions are the biggest part of what makes the holiday season so special. They honor who we are, our beliefs, our history and everything that makes us unique.

With the holiday season fast approaching, Fernbank Museum is one day away from opening its highly anticipated exhibit, Winter Wonderland: Celebrations & Traditions Around the World. This exhibit highlights festivities and traditions that tell unique stories through arts, crafts, symbols and ornamental displays that recognize cultural celebrations, events and traditions from around the world. Winter Wonderland will be on view Nov. 18, 2023 – Jan. 7, 2024.

"It's rewarding to know that Winter Wonderland has become a tradition that many of our guests, partners, volunteers and staff look forward to each year,” said Bobbi Hohmann, Vice President of Programming & Collections and curator of the Winter Wonderland exhibition. “It's a special opportunity to embrace the holiday season through an exhibit that is not only beautiful, but also incredibly informative. Winter Wonderland fosters an appreciation and understanding of the people and traditions around the world in a joyful and celebratory way."

As we commemorate the 14th year of Winter Wonderland, we wanted to give you an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at what goes into installing an exhibit that we not only love but look forward to each year.

The beginning phases of installing Winter Wonderland start with the exhibition curator Bobbi Hohmann. Initially, she reaches out to various partners to ask for their participation and once confirmed she coordinates their installation times, helps with their tree display text labels and works as a direct communication piece throughout the exhibit's installation. This process takes place a couple months before the actual installation.

Two weeks out from the exhibition opening date, the magical whirlwind begins. Numerous trees and display cases are decorated and installed along the entry and upper levels of the museum.

The exhibition installation timeline is as follows:

First the exhibits team brings out the reuseable trees from the exhibit’s storage and aligns the trees on the entry and upper level of the museum.

Then, with the help of volunteers and staff, the exhibits team fluffs the trees and gets them ready for decorations.

 After the trees are fluffed and the display cases are placed in their designated areas, the cultural partners proceed with their decorations about a week before the exhibit’s opening date.

Next, the large Fernbank Tree is installed in the front lobby by facilities staff and decorated by the exhibitions team. Tree skirts are added to all of the trees.

Once the trees and display cases are decorated, the exhibits team installs display signs with information to go along with each. The display signs include a map showing the location of the country and facts about the trees/cases. The information is written by the partners and edited by Bobbi Hohmann.

Quote from Emily Schroeder, Exhibits Designer

“My favorite part of Winter Wonderland is seeing the decorations that the partners choose and the different themes they create each year. For example, we have a couple of partners that come back each year like Mexico. Mexico decorates their tree differently every year, so I get to learn something new about Mexico every single year. Some countries decorate their trees in a non-traditional way when compared to America, so it’s fun to see countries like Kenya and Venezuela have beautiful handmade decorations.”

At Fernbank Museum, we believe that celebrating diverse traditions and cultures allows us to encourage guests to cultivate a deeper understanding and appreciation for our global community. Furthermore, embrace the traditions and rituals that make your holiday season unique and take some time this year to visit Winter Wonderland: Celebrations & Traditions Around the World to discover unique festivities worldwide!  

To learn more about Winter Wonderland and get tickets please click here: Winter Wonderland.