Seasonal Success

The Paine Art Center and Gardens wanted to try something different.

Although the holidays are typically the busiest time of year for historic homes, the Paine wanted to establish a new holiday attraction that would engage and inspire visitors from throughout the state. So in 2007, the Paine staff created a one-of-a-kind, interactive exhibit based on the traditional holiday tale, The Nutcracker.

"I'm not aware of anyone that does anything quite like this," says Aaron Sherer, Executive Director of the Paine Art Center and Gardens. "It's an active and engaging experience. You're literally immersed in the story."

At Nutcracker in the Castle, guests travel through dramatically decorated rooms, transformed by mansion staff and local designers to recreate scenes from the classic tale. Though the exhibit is designed to be self-led, local musicians, dancers and actors also perform on select dates, literally bringing the story to life.

Last year, Nutcracker in the Castle drew 11,470 attendees, nearly half of which did not live in Oshkosh and traveled here specifically for the exhibit. Throughout its seven week run, Sherer estimates that Nutcracker in the Castle generated over $500,000 in revenue for the local community.

The Oshkosh Area Community Foundation provided over $22,000 in grants to support the exhibit, drawing in tourism dollars and enhancing Oshkosh's vibrant arts environment.

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