Beyond Tours: Experiential Tourism

Soaring high above Taliesin Preservation, the Wisconsin-based nonprofit organization charged with preserving the history and architecture of Frank Lloyd Wrights personal home and estate.
Photograph by Mike McDermott

Taliesin was originally intended to be used as a center for experimentation, sharing new ideas, and creating improved ways of living. Taliesin Preservation, the Wisconsin-based nonprofit organization charged with preserving the Taliesin legacy and methods of educating the public, makes innovative thinking and living its guide to future visitor experiences.

Most often, visitors to Taliesin take one of four regularly offered tours. Led by experienced guides, these tours allow visitors to experience and learn about the history and architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright’s personal home and estate. Tours are the most accessible way visitors can see the home, and they regularly usher in over 27,000 visitors annually. While our tours are successful and continue to grow, Taliesin Preservation is committed to finding new ways to engage visitors.

The Twilight at Taliesin evening experience is one way visitors can experience Taliesin much in the same way Frank Lloyd Wright and his apprentices and guests would have while living and staying on the estate. Unlike guided tours, guests are encouraged to explore the home at their own pace with a tour guide on hand to give a brief introduction to Taliesin. Throughout the experience, guests enjoy wine and hors d’oeuvres provided by the Food Artisan Immersion Program at Taliesin, an immersive educational program that teaches culinary students how to responsibly source seasonal ingredients and create sustainable food.

Twilight at Taliesin is offered later in the evening to experience the golden hour in the hills surrounding the house and the warm glow of the Wright-designed lighting, often missed during daytime tours. The tour ends on Wright’s terrace to enjoy dessert in the night air. Twilight at Taliesin is meant to make visitors feel like the personal guests of the Wrights and enjoy the home as an entertainment space. This experience is ideal for visitors looking to explore the house in a different setting, and for returning guests seeking an authentic Taliesin experience.

The Garden Tours at Taliesin are another unique way to see the estate and connect with nature for inspiration and innovation. This experience is meant for visitors with an interest in gardening or the outdoors looking for a relaxing evening, or even those Wright fans that want to delve more into the nature of Taliesin, a key theme of Wright’s organic architecture.

Also set in the evening hours, the garden tour is spent outside of the buildings examining the enchanting landscape and carefully curated gardens. A tour guide leads you around a path not taken by any other tour, with views of the natural hillside and the guest wing beneath the main floor. Guests are then led up the front steps to the garden courtyard, a space Frank Lloyd Wright intended to perfectly unite the interior and exterior of the house. The gardens surrounding the buildings are all restored to the historic, organic style originally intended, with plants selected because of their historic connection. The garden stroll ends with refreshments on a terrace overlooking the valley.

Visitors with limited time or seeking something other than a guided tour can still enjoy a unique perspective of the estate. A hiking trail starting at the Frank Lloyd Wright Visitor Center is a great way to experience the landscape native to Taliesin while also affording unique views of Taliesin, Midway Barn, and much more. This mile-long trail weaves in and out of wooded hillsides bordering Highway 23 across from the estate. The trail passes through the lower slopes of remnant prairies, once almost completely covered by aggressively growing cedar trees. In recent years, Taliesin Preservation has worked to remove these trees and return the land to native prairies. During the summer months, a trail walk will show glimpses of unique prairie flowers and grasses. The path ends across the street from Unity Chapel, one of Wright’s earliest collaborations in architecture, next to the Lloyd-Jones/Wright family cemetery. This building is not currently featured on any Taliesin tours, so the hiking trail provides a great path of discovery to explore this hidden gem.

From its beginning, Taliesin was meant to be a place to create and experiment with new ideas. Taliesin Preservation strives to uphold the legacy that the public should experience this iconic place in innovative ways beyond the typical tour. These experiential tours are meant to show visitors how to integrate nature, art, and culture into everyday life. Taliesin Preservation hopes to continue with this tradition and explore new methods to share Frank Lloyd Wright’s vision of living with visitors.

Christina Harrington is the visitor experience manager at Taliesin.

Taliesin Preservation Frank Lloyd Wright Visitor Center
5607 County Rd C
Spring Green, WI 53588