Whirligigs: Wilson, NC

This sculpture park showcasing the thirty-one giant “Whirligigs” created by lifetime Wilson resident, Vollis Simpson, is a dynamic and colorful effort to kickstart the local economy of Wilson, North Carolina with the arts.  Now in his early nineties, Vollis is no longer able to give his mixed media sculptures the time and attention they require to survive the outdoor elements. Cognizant of the attention the sculptures have brought Wilson in the thirty years that Vollis has been sharing them with the public, the town decided to turn them into a veritable education and tourism destination as part of a three-phase project called The Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park.

Phase one will see the creation of the park and the restoration of the sculptures. This phase has already created nine full-time and seven part-time jobs. When the park opens to the public, phase two will open jobs in the private sector in order to accommodate the influx of new tourists. Phase three will focus on the recruitment of creative entrepreneurs to fill the historic tobacco warehouses in the burgeoning industrial and artisan district that surrounds the park. Parallel to these three phases, the Whirligig Repair and Conservation Headquarters will train local mechanics, artisans and managers in arts conservation while exposing them to the exciting intersection of design, engineering, sustainability and physics that the Whirligigs represent.