By Shereen Siewert
WAUSAU — A piece of Wausau’s history has been saved from the scrap heap and will instead be restored before being installed at the new Wausau Museum of Contemporary Art.
Wenebojo, a 22-foot metal sculpture designed by local resident Edward Schoenberger, was dedicated in June 1976 at the former First American Center in downtown Wausau. A June 28, 1976 story in the Wausau Daily Herald stated that the steel and copper sculpture was named for a culture hero of the Chippewa Indians, to align with the “First American” in the name of the building. Wenebojo was considered a “bringer of good things,” according to the report.
Schoenberger died in 2007.
The sculpture was later moved to the Northcentral Technical College campus, where it was set to be demolished and disposed of this week amid safety concerns over the deteriorating materials used in the sculpture. But those plans all changed on Thursday when David Hummer, founder of the future WMOCA museum, learned about the sculpture’s imminent demise.
After meeting with NTC officials, Hummer and Schoenberger’s daughter, Kim Schoenberger, helped dismantle the sculpture early Friday and hauled it away to be restored. Hummer is planning to complete all necessary repairs and will place the sculpture permanently at the Wausau Museum of Contemporary art for many more generations to enjoy.
“Right now it’s a can of worms, but nothing is impossible,” Hummer wrote, in a Facebook post.
Kim Schoenberger said Hummer is her hero.
“I just can’t believe what he’s doing,” she said. “But that’s just the kind of person he is.”
The new WMOCA, located in the former Wausau Club building, is set to open this fall.
Photo courtesy of Christine Dixen Martens