The Neville Public Museum

The Neville Blog

Guns & Gowns

Wednesday, February 08, 2017
Over the course of the last several months we have been preparing artifacts and research for our one-night-only "Guns and Gowns" event.   

Fortunately, a large portion of the research on the guns was already done.  Considering the generosity of our donors, the importance that firearms played in the establishment of Green Bay, and the significance of Fort Howard, the museum has hosted a number of exhibits featuring guns and other weaponry.  Dresses however, not as much.  Although the fashion collection is quite large and the donors just as generous, there hasn’t yet been an occasion to “dress up”… until now.

One of the biggest challenges we faced when choosing artifacts for this event was something that wasn’t apparent from the start.  The initial idea for the event was to use time periods where we knew we would have a good selection of firearms, and then find gowns to match.  However, as we searched through collections it became clear that the periods for which we had some of the most interesting guns, typically wartime, were also times when, for many reasons, fashion was not a priority.  

1847 Walker Colt Revolver (#2002.10.238)
The Civil War and WWII periods were the most challenging.  The Neville certainly has dresses from both era’s but few of them, if any, reach “gown” status.  Most of them are either practical, every-day type fashions, or made specifically for a purpose or job.  It was more important for most people during wartime to keep their families safe and fed, than to worry about frills and bows.

For example, the beautiful gun-metal grey wedding dress we will be displaying alongside our Civil War firearms was originally worn in 1853 by Louisa Gardner.  At this time it still would have been relatively uncommon for women to wear white on their wedding day. Often they would either wear their best dress to the ceremony, or have a dress made which they could also use on other occasions.  This wedding dress was worn again a decade later by Gardner’s stepdaughter, Mrs. O.C. Ely but we don’t know for certain why.  Considering how beautiful this gown is even over 160 years later, it may have been reused because it was such a lovely dress, or because it was a family heirloom.  It may also be possible that it was practical choice in uncertain times, or some combination of reasons.

 1853 Wedding Dress (#4595/2216)
In the case of the Civil War and WWII dresses, as often happens when doing historical research, the lack of evidence or artifacts is just as interesting as having a lot to choose from. 

Justine Kaempfer
Intern

In Case You Didn’t CAT-ch It, We Had a STELLAR 2016!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016
Our exhibit team was extremely busy in 2016 installing 15 different exhibits and putting on a variety of fun packed programs.  We couldn’t possibly re-cap all of them so here are five of our favorite exhibits and programs from 2016! 

#1 Life and Death at Fort Howard
This immersive experience leads visitors through tales of murder, lost love, and even whiskey smuggling.  You’re transported back 200 years when Green Bay was home to a booming fur trade.  In 1816, the U.S. Army threw themselves into the mix. What happens when soldiers from the east coast are forced into a community of French, Métis, and Native peoples?  You’ll have to see the exhibit to find out.

Fort Howard went beyond the exhibit floor- it was the subject of several interesting programs including public archaeology of the site and a lively performance of the fort’s biggest foe, Ebenezer Childs by Let Me Be Frank Productions. 

The exhibition opened in April 2016 and doesn’t close until April 2017.  This means you still have time to check it out!

 

 

#2 Morbid Curiosities
When we started planning to pull out some of our morbid artifacts for a special Halloween event, we weren’t certain what the response would be.  We sure were surprised when the event for only 25 people quickly sold out.  The team ended up accommodating more than 150 people that evening.  Visitors shared their haunted experiences and were able to explore morbid artifacts and their stories not usually on display. 

If you missed it this year make sure to get tickets early for next year’s Halloween- themed event!  

#3 #NevilleCats and Feline Fine
We were overwhelmed by the response to our Instagram contest #NevilleCats.  Cat lovers were able to submit photos of their feline friends and winners were chosen for display in the museum.  In the end we had over 1,000 photos submitted!  All of this accompanied the traveling exhibition Feline FineFeline Fine featured art in all different mediums from artists all over the country.  The works for art depicted all different kinds of cats, from our favorite household pets to African Lions.

 #4 Nebula Jars and Explorer Wednesday

To accompany our astronomy exhibit, Eyes on the Sky, our educator thought it would be fun to create nebula jars on Explorer Wednesday in August.  This also had an overwhelming response and we’re grateful to have been able to share this experience with over 100 families. 

Explorer Wednesday is every first Wednesday of the month during our free night for Brown County residents.

#5 Ice Age Imperials
This traveling exhibition not only transported visitors back in time but also allowed them to touch fossils!  It’s not every day you get to touch a dire wolf tooth or giant sloth claw.  The arrival of this exhibit was a great chance for us to pull out some fossils from our collection, including our mammoth tusk from Alaska! 

 

There were so many more events and exhibits that helped make 2016 a great year for the Neville.  Did we miss your favorite? Comment and let us know what your favorite exhibit/event/program was this past year!  

A Night at the Museum 2016

Tuesday, December 20, 2016
The Neville Public Museum Foundation held its 2nd annual A Night at the Museum event on the evening of December 13, 2016 at the Neville Public Museum in Green Bay! 

Guests enjoyed great food, a silent auction, entertainment from the John Kelley Duo and Shawn Connelly & Jordan Christianson, and several activity stations including a photo opportunity, a demo by the local chapter of the Embroiderers Guild of America, a Rug Display by the Green Bay & De Pere Antiquarians, a demo of a historic card game, Bruce the Spruce, an Archaeology station and more.



The success of the event was attributed to the participation of over 130 guests, the sale of 38 silent auction baskets/experiences, and Lego Lambeau Fan Sales. We had the generous support of many silent auction donors, 18 table and station sponsors and individual ticket buyers. We also benefited from generous discounts and outright donations by our supportive vendors. Many thanks are extended to all involved. 


This year’s event brought in over $20,000 after expenses, which will be used to help fund the Museum’s exhibits, exhibit-related programming and other educational activities. Because of generous sponsors like you the Neville Public Museum Foundation is able to support the mission of the Neville Public Museum and inspire audiences by presenting innovative and thought-provoking exhibits, educational programs and public events on history, science and art. 


On behalf of the Foundation Board of Directors and the planning committee, we extend a special thank you to all of our sponsors, donors, volunteers and guests that helped make the event a great success! We greatly appreciate your support in helping to create a community legacy of bridging communities and connecting generations!  

Kasha Huntowski
Executive Director, Neville Public Museum Foundation

H.C. Prange Co.: Bringing Back a Memory

Wednesday, November 30, 2016
I took my position as an intern hoping to grow and learn more in the field of museum work. I was blessed to do more than I ever expected at my first internship. During my time at the Neville my main task was to create and set up two photography exhibits, but I also completed many research requests as well as scanning photos for future exhibitions.

One of the two photography displays I created was During the Winter which features photographs of the H.C. Prange Co. department store. Coming into this process I had no idea what the store was, since the last store closed the year I was born. But after doing research and talking to members of the Neville staff and family members I was awed by the impression the store left on its visitors. H.C. Prange Co. was known for its magical window displays, especially during the holiday season.

Here are some of my favorite photos including H.C. Prange Co. and other winter scenes.

This window display is unique in that it is just spreading Christmas cheer and is not trying to sell specific products. 17.2006.10 Collection of the Neville Public Museum of Brown County This is one of the many window displays that featured animals having a joyful time in the snow.  17.2006.16  Collection of the Neville Public Museum of Brown CountyThis is a photo of H.C. Prange Co. in Green Bay in the 1970s decorated for the holiday season. 18.1988.612  Henry Lefebvre Collection of the Neville Public Museum of Brown CountyHorses and sleighs are not as easy to park as automobiles. At least it appears to be the case in this early 20th century image of the parking lot at H.C. Prange’s department store.  45.2004.100 Collection of the Neville Public Museum of Brown County 

I was able to learn so much about Green Bay’s pastime and the wonderful holiday joy the department store was able to spread.  Being able to set up the two exhibits was far more than I imagined doing. I am thankful that I was able to learn how to handle objects and photographs, scan photos, and prepare them for display. I even learned some history of Northeastern Wisconsin.

Explore Holiday Memories and During the Winter now through January 15, 2017!

Marissa Schroeder
Intern
UW-Whitewater

H.C. Prange Co. Mirror

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

This past JulPhoto Karl Vieau on Facebook y museum staff came across an interesting post on Facebook.  Karl Vieau, a former H.C. Prange Co. employee shared this photo of what looked like a circus mirror.

 

Karl asked "Does anyone remember the circus mirror on 2nd floor mezzanine, kids department at the H.C. Prange store downtown Green Bay?"

 

If you know anything about the museum’s holiday displays, you know we are home to more than 50 figurines that once graced the Washington St. windows at H.C. Prange Co. in downtown Green Bay.   Each year the museum puts together holiday displays with these figurines. The connection to the museum was obvious to us and to Facebook commenters.  Museum Director, Beth Lemke commented herself inviting Karl to contact her about moving it to the museum.  

 

After meeting with Karl it was clear how special this piece was to him and his memories of H.C. Prange.  He graciously donated it to the museum for our holiday display.   Now you can see the mirror for yourself right outside the Children Only Shop at the museum.  Dana Ostrenga bellying up to the fun circus mirror at H.C. Pranges Co., March 14, 1980

 

Holiday Memories is open November 18th through January 15th! 

 

 

The Monowheel Returns

Friday, September 30, 2016

 Working in a museum, I get to see plenty of interesting artifacts.  Some are more widely recognizable and well researched and others are much more mysterious.  One of our mysterious artifacts is this object- the wooden monowheel.    While there are other monowheels in collections across the country, this is the only known one made of wood rather than metal.  

What is a monowheel?

This rare artifact is a self-propelled mode of transportation, much like a unicycle.  The big difference is the rider sits on the wooden seat inside the big wheel.  The rider uses the hand cranks to move the inner smaller wheel which transfers motion to the larger outer wheel with the stars.  

What do we know about the monowheel?

This monowheel was collected by Frank Duchateau in the early 1900s.  He donated it to the museum in 1943. According to a letter received by Duchateau in 1922, the monowheel was made by a Mr. Rowe in the 1860s.  It was first exhibited at the old museum on the corner of Jefferson and Doty Streets and was kept on display when the museum moved here.  In 2014, the monowheel was conserved and traveled to Madison and Appleton to be included in the exhibit Shifting Gears: A Cyclical History of Badger Bicycling.

What don’t we know about the monowheel?

We know a little about the monowheel but we are still missing some key pieces of information.  Why did Mr. Rowe create the monowheel?  What was it used for?   Are there other pieces like the monowheel in other collections? 

The answer to all of these questions is – we don’t know.   We can speculate what the piece was used for but without more information we can never be sure.  However, just because we cannot be sure does not mean the monowheel is not important.  This one-of-a-kind artifact is an excellent example of how the museum has collected, displayed and cared for artifacts throughout the last century.  

The monowheel is now back at the museum and on exhibit in On the Edge of the Inland Sea.  Check it out for yourself!

Lisa Kain
Curator 

We're on Snapchat!

Monday, September 26, 2016

Exciting news! We’re on Snapchat!  Follow us by entering username NevilleMuseum or use our Snapcode!

You can expect to see artifacts, exhibits, historic photos, and events like you’ve never seen them before!  Get behind-the-scenes sneak peeks, see artifacts that aren’t currently on display, and see how we put a new twist on the museum!  







Reviving Rahr's Beer

Friday, September 16, 2016

Quietly sitting on a shelf in the Neville Public Museum’s permanent collection was a bottle of Rahr’s “Old Imperial Pale Beer.”  Known as the
 Aristocrat of Beer, this bottle caught my eye because it had never been opened.  This meant that its contents could be examined to see if it harbored live yeast cells that might be coaxed out of hibernation. I had met Professor David Hunnicutt, a microbiologist from St. Norbert College and got to talking about this possible project. He was willing to give it a try, provided all the permissions were granted from the museum to release the bottle and its contents.  On Friday September 9, 2016 we opened the bottle in the Microbiology and Immunology lab at St. Norbert College. 

The History of Rahr's Brewery

One hundred fifty years ago, Henry Rahr established a brew house on the corner of Main Street and N. Irwin Avenue in Green Bay known as the East River Brewery. It would become the largest and most well-known historic brewery in Green Bay. Following the death of Henry Rahr in 1891 the business was passed to his sons Henry Jr. and Frederick and became Henry Rahr & Sons Co. Prior to Prohibition (pre 1920) Rahr’s was producing 60,000 barrels of beer per year.  After Prohibition was repealed in 1933, the brewery was back in business and began pumping out “Standard,” “Special,” “Belgian” and “Old Imperial Pale Beer.”  In 1966 the company was sold to Oshkosh Brewing Co. Exactly 100 years after opening, Rahr’s Brewery was shut down.  The brewery buildings were demolished, leaving no trace behind except for Rahr’s merchandise, barrels, and bottles.

The Experiment 

Wearing a white lab coat, Professor Hunnicutt was ready to extract the roughly eighty-year-old beer from the bottle. Under a ventilation hood, I carefully pried the cap off and immediately heard the release of carbon dioxide.  This meant the bottle was properly sealed and its contents unspoiled. Stepping back, Dr. Hunnicutt and microbiology senior Alex Hupke inserted sterile pipets and transferred the beer into test tubes with various sugar solutions to invoke the yeast to regenerate. A portion was then decanted into a cylinder for testing the remaining sugars in the beer using a hydrometer.  Surprisingly, the resulting measurement of 5 °Plato (1.018) meant that a fair amount of sugar remained in the beer that was not fermented. The color of the beer appeared a little darker than expected, a deep yellow to light amber color. The odor exhibited a yeast and malt profile which was also a great sign as no sour aroma was detected.  Upon the writing of this article, the results of yeast growth are yet to be confirmed, but our fingers are crossed that something is still viable and therefore usable to ferment a new batch of beer.  If so, we’ll be using this (or a combination) of yeast in a forthcoming Neville Cellar Series recipe, that will be a clone of the Rahr’s “Old Imperial Pale Beer” developed in collaboration with Hinterland Brewery. Details can be found here: http://www.nevillepublicmuseum.org/neville-cellar-series 

Kevin Cullen
Deputy Director 


Our Mammoth Sculpture Has a Name!

Wednesday, August 31, 2016


Thank you to everyone who voted on the name for our new mammoth sculpture!  After over 800 community votes our sculpture has been named Tundra!  

Tundra was created by Carl Vanderheyden in collaboration with John Koester and is made from three recycled 250 gallon heating oil tanks from the Green Bay area. Tundra stands 7 feet tall and weighs 750 pounds.  

We would like to extend a special thank you to the Romaine & Mary Schanock Family Foundation and Renco Machine Company for making this project possible.  


What’s the 411 on these ‘90s toys?

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

In the last three weeks interning here at the Neville, I have been working on cataloging a collection donated by the Colburn family. ThNPM #2016.6.4e donor’s grandfather, Enos Colburn, served as President of the City Board of Park Commissioners in Green Bay from 1938 until his death in 1945. Colburn Park was renamed after Enos Colburn in 1956 in remembrance of his dedication and services to the environment.

Within the donated collection were two Beanie Babies, which were of particular interest to me. One can only imagine how silly I felt wearing gloves to hold a Beanie Baby that was ‘born’ just a year after I was! But using gloves to hold any object within the museum’s collection is best practice used by all museums no matter how old the object is. Although I felt odd using gloves to hold the Beanie Babies, I understood it was necessary for the object to stay in a condition that can last another 100 years.  It’s hard to think of our everyday objects as historical because we don’t consciously think that we are currently creating history.

Everyday objects such as Beanie Babies made history with their release in the early 1990s. The first Beanie Baby™ was released in 1993 and ultimately began the trend that had people collecting as many as they could get their hands on. The craze escalated when Ty Warner, owner of the company that distributNPM #1995.24.8bed the Beanie Babies, began to retire certain Beanie Babies. By 1995, this strategy pushed Beanie Babies as the most wanted toys in the country.

Along a similar vein would be the collecting of Mattel’s Barbie ™  Dolls. The Neville has a wide-ranging collection of dolls including many Barbies. One particular Barbie, the Masquerade Ball Barbie is 1 of 8 donated to the museum for an exhibit in 1995. The donor, Georgia Rankin collected around 2,000 Barbie Dolls between 1959 and 2000. Rankin said her reason for collecting the dolls stems from her belief that the dolls replicate how real world fashions change and teaches young girls they can grow up to be anyone they want to be.

Museums collect objects that tell a story about our history. Both Beanie Babies and Barbies reflect social movements before 2000. These kid’s toys were a large part of people’s lives and by keeping a couple of Beanie Babies and Barbies in the collection here in the Neville we have a part of that moment in history. If the object has made a large impact on the world, that is something that should be preserved for future generations to observe.
Visit the Neville Public Museum to see Beanie Babies “Speedy” and “Erin” from the Colburn collection and more from the 1990s.

Kylie LaCombe
Intern, University of Wisconsin- Stevens Point

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