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Vollis Simpson Whirlgig Park

Updated: Apr 27

2018 Best Outdoor Space Improvement

Wilson, NC


The Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park was a collaborative effort to create a catalytic project with three overarching goals:


One - To conserve and display the original collection of Vollis Simpson’s massive kinetic sculptures in their home county.


Two - To create a beautiful community living room in the Heart of Historic Wilson, and


Three – To be an economic driver that would re-brand downtown Wilson and spur economic development in the forms of property redevelopment, business start-ups, increased downtown living, and visitor attraction.


Over the course of eight years, $8 million was raised to complete a comprehensive planning process, acquire the artwork, create museum standard conservation protocols, repair and conserve the art, train underemployed community members, purchase the land, design the park, and realize the vision. Funding was obtained from state and federal grants, foundations, private donations, local government, and sponsorship.


From the announcement of the project in 2010 through the completion of the project in 2017 downtown Wilson has experienced $61 million in investment with an additional $55 million in investment expected to be completed in fiscal year 2019. Since the opening of the park, tourism numbers are up by at least 100,000 visitors per year and the project has been recognized by some of the largest media outlets in the country.