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A well-known folk art object, a whirligig is a wind-powered creation that spins and and swirls. Vollis Simpson (1919-2013), a North Carolina-based folk artist, was celebrated for his whirligigs, which he made from recycled heating and air conditioning systems and reflective materials. The unconventional artist, whose work was featured in museums, backyards, and the 1996 Olympics, passed away on Friday, May 31, 2013 at the age of 94.

Simpson’s hulking masterpieces, which he built near his machine shop in Lucama, NC, stand as high as 50 feet and weigh as much as 3 tons. Many of his whirligigs were on public display in town until a restoration effort was started. The process is about halfway complete and the Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park is slated to open in November 2013 in Wilson, NC, about 10 miles from the artist’s home.

Known for their whimsical quality, Simpson’s whirligigs tell stories of a community and bygone eras. He built his first whirligig while he was overseas during World War II. Upon returning to the United States, Simpson farmed and worked as a mover before opening the machine shop that would become his whirligig studio. In the 1980s, Simpson kicked his whirligig making into high gear and spent 10 years building his captivating, large-scale creations.

Simpson’s works are part of the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, MD and the American Folk Art Museum in New York City.

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The Art Newspaper’s annual survey of art museums named the Louvre in Paris the most visited institution in the world for 2012. Attendance skyrocketed to 9.7 million, meaning one million more people visited the museum than in 2011.The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York was the world’s second most-visited institution.

The list of most-visited museums did not change significantly from 2011 and the Louvre has claimed the top spot since 2007. British museums fared exceptionally well in 2012 with some help from the London summer Olympics, which brought crowds of visitors to the city. The Tate Modern saw attendance jump from 4.8 million to 5.3 million thanks to a highly anticipated Damien Hirst (b. 1965) retrospective, which helped the museum move from the fifth to the fourth most visited institution in the world.

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