Whirligig Park and Museum

The Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park is a science and art park in Wilson in North Carolina. It gives a fascinating experience in educational, artistic, and recreational facets. It is an arts-driven project that focuses on creative efforts.

It was conceptualized by Vollis Simpson. Simpson was a farm machinery repairman. When he was almost retired, he started making huge kinetic sculptures at his farm. His work gained popularity and eventually became the park @ Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park and Museum – 301 Goldsboro St S, Wilson, NC 27893

A unique park with many creative wind-powered sculptures & events such as concerts & farmers' markets. It is a fun park to see and take pictures.

Vollis Simpson

Mr. Simpson never referred to himself as an artist. By the time he retired, he was making his creations throughout the week. He called them his “whirligigs”. He created his art until late 2012, then passed away six months later. Wilson held campaigns to use his creations in revitalizing its downtown region. This caused the town to gain the nation’s attention. The downtown project received grants from various organizations, including;

· ArtPlace America
· The Kresge Foundation
· The National Endowment for the Arts

These donations allowed for the Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park and Museum to open.

Simpson made his sculptures from industrial parts that he recycled. Since his health was declining, he was unable to grease or paint the parts. The creations have suffered hurricanes, sun, and rain for about thirty years. The plan for the Park in downtown Wilson was created to protect Wilson’s top attraction in 2010. This was to the delight of Vollis Simpson. His work would survive him for other generations to enjoy. The park has 30 of his art. Some of these are more than 50 feet tall. They have been transported, installed, and restored.

The Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park Idea

The idea of the park was supported by the citizens of Wilson. It received major backing from neighborhood associations and downtown stakeholders. It was also supported by youth groups, artists, and business leaders. There were many community meetings held. These allowed Wilson citizens to contribute to the vision and design of the park. The restoration efforts created more than fifty jobs for locals. The project developed a workforce training program. It was implemented by a number of institutions, including;

1. Wilson Community College
2. St John’s Community Development Corporation
3. Opportunities Industrialization Center of Wilson

Among other institutions, these helped with conservation and repairs on the whirligigs.

Surface678, an award-winning architecture firm, helped design the park. It holds the world’s largest collection and sits on a two-acre piece of land. The collection features impressive sculptures by Simpson in his best years.

The park and art museum has a replica of a pond that was on Simpson’s family farm. The replica is a central grass amphitheater. Whirligigs are placed around the amphitheater as they originally appeared around the pond. There are garden squares and rows of concrete all over the park. These are mimicked from the tobacco lines and rows of crops in the Simpson farm. This aspect of the park is in honor of the agricultural heritage of the town.

The Pavilion

The pavilion was designed by Hood and Herring Architecture. It is an open-air shelter that is large enough to house artifacts. It has crafts and art done by the community. It also holds farmers’ markets and other community activities and events.

The Pavilion complements the auction warehouses for tobacco. These warehouses are all around the town.

There are special night lights on the Pavilion. The lights illuminate the reflectors on the kinetic sculptures. This gives the nighttime view a magical feel. The best place to view the lights and reflections is around the curve at the Simpson curve. It is an ode to the original Whirligig location.


There are a number of activities and events held at the folk art museum and park. A full calendar can be found on the official website. Some major events worth mentioning include;

1. Downtown Beats and Eats
The Downtown Beats and Eats concert has had 6 successful annual runs. The concert runs for a week. It is sponsored by local businesses. It features homegrown music. There are upcoming bands and musicians who perform on stage. The most recent group is Gig360. The concerts are held each Saturday at the Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park. They run from 4 pm to 8 pm. Opening and closing concert days feature a movie after the concert. There are also food trucks and specialty beverages.

2. Bands on the Run
This is a benefit concert for the Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park. It is organized by TripleWide and Matty Begs. They are local favorites. The online concert features amazing downtown spaces. Locals are able to watch from the comfort of their homes. The concert is available on all streaming devices. All the money collected goes to Whirligig Park’s maintenance.

3. Electric Light Fantasy
This event offers four nights of exciting holiday shows. There are colorful beams of laser across the sky. These, in addition to the background of the huge whirligigs, create an amazing view. There is also holiday music and some synchronized movement for the perfect experience.

The event is organized by;

· Wilson Downtown Development
· The Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park and Museum
· Emerald Owl Productions

These organizations create a one of a kind holiday tradition for Wilson residents. They use creativity, innovation, and small lasers to create a light show like no other.


You can help keep the whirligigs spinning. The park accepts any amount in donations. The money received goes to the care and maintenance of Vollis Simpson’s sculptures.

The town of Wilson is a national example of creative restoration. Cities in America have taken its example to create parks that maintain their history. The Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park and Museum is a great cultural asset. It shows how one individual can influence future generations through folk art. It has created jobs for locals through maintenance and tourism. Residents of Wilson are in a better space with the park’s existence.