The Neville Public Museum

The Neville Blog

A Fort Howard Christmas

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

 

192 years ago a cheerful holiday feast was held just across the street from the museum near Leicht Park at Fort Howard. 

Once a fort officer, Col. McNeil (later commander of Fort Howard 1824-1825), found out how important it was to the French residents of the area to celebrate Christmas, he planned an elaborate party.  The officers invited the French, the Americans and native people living in the area.  The 4’ o’clock dinner is said to have fed a hundred people.  The evening included a feast of fish, bear, and porcupine along with a dance that lasted late into the night.  

A local land surveyor who attended the fort’s Christmas dinner/dance in 1823 describes the evening...   
    The hall was well filled… men and women, were attired in all the grades of dress, from the highest partisan down to the buck-skin coats, pants, petticoat, and moccasins of the aboriginals.  Yet as no one of the elite thought himself over-dressed, so, on the other hand, none of the citizens, French or half-breeds reproached themselves with least want or etiquette, or of intended disrespect of their host, on account of costume.
    -Albert G. Ellis

The fort hosted several gatherings like this one during its existence.  Maj. Zachary Taylor (Commander of Fort Howard 1816-1818 and later President of the United States) has been known for hosting social events but the truth is several officers enjoyed throwing hosting parties, including Col. McNeil.  

An Invitation addressed to Mrs. Lawe for a ball at Fort Howard in 1820 (NPM #1989.26.48) 

These gatherings led to some interesting stories including one murder and dangerous trip across the river during a violent storm.  These stories will be featured in our upcoming exhibit, Life and Death at Fort Howard opening in April 2016.  

Lisa Zimmerman, Curator

Night at the Museum

Friday, December 11, 2015

Thank you to all who helped celebrate the Neville’s 100th anniversary at the inaugural Night at the Museum event held at the Museum Tuesday night!

 Deputy Director, Kevin Cullen, explaining SCUBA diving gear for underwater archaeology to a guest

Because of our generous supporters 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. We greatly appreciate your support in helping to create a community legacy of bridging communities and connecting generations!

~Kasha Huntowski, Neville Public Museum Foundation 

 

Iroquois Raised Beadwork with Karen Ann Hoffman

Tuesday, November 17, 2015
Over the last year the museum staff has had the pleasure to work with two Wisconsin artists in the creation of our current exhibit Sisters in Spirit: Native American Stories in Rocks and Beads.  Geri "Sisters in Spirit" on exhibit until February 14, 2016Schrab contributed the rock art watercolors featured in the exhibit, many of which are based on rock art sites in Wisconsin. Karen Ann Hoffman uses her tribe’s traditional Iroquois raised beadwork to celebrate the legends of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois).  Together the exhibit presents a compelling glimpse of the continuing influence of Native Americans on contemporary Wisconsin art.

Karen Ann’s contemporary work takes inspiration from the historic pieces like the artifacts in the museum’s collection.  When Karen Ann took some time to look at our collection’s Iroquois raised beadwork we asked if she’d be willing to share her thoughts in a blog.   So here is a guest blog post from Karen Ann Hoffman about the art of Iroquois raised beadwork and the museum’s collection.  Enjoy!

Lisa Zimmerman, Curator

Iroquois Raised Beadwork 

Iroquois Raised Beadwork is a rare and beautiful style of Native American art which originated in the Eastern Great Lakes region. This art is a material language which embodies, preserves and expresses Iroquois world view. Its forms and designs reach back over ten-thousand years. The motifs were first executed with bone and shell, later with moose-hair and hide and, since the 1500’s, with glass beads and trade cloth.


I want to thank my teachers: Samuel Thomas and Lorna Hill for instructing me in the the cultural connections and responsibilities that make Iroquois Raised Beadwork so rich and meaningful. Thanks are also due to the Neville Museum for exhibiting my contemporary Iroquois Raised Beadwork. I have come to understand that pieces I produce today, should stand, not for me as an individual; but for our Iroquois world view. That someday, long after my name is forgotten, my beadwork will need to speak about us in a strong, clear voice.

The Iroquois Raised Beadwork pieces in the Neville Museum’s collection represent a different segment of Iroquois beadwork often termed “Whimseys”, though some feel this term trivializes the artform (Elliott, Preserving Tradition and Understanding the Past: Papers from the Conference on Iroquois Research, 2001–2005). They were likely made in New York or Canada by members of the Mohawk and Tuscarora communities specifically for sale to the tourist market in the mid to late 1800’s.

Mohawk-style beadwork of this period, is often characterized by a heavier, more opulent beadwork style using larger seed beads than the Tuscarora-style work which may exhibit more intricate beadwork patterns using smaller seed beads. Some pieces have characteristics of both styles.
Whisk Broom Holder dated 1905. Mohawk style (#R32-5)
Iroquois beaders developed items which would appeal to the souvenir market: pin cushions, needle cases and match holders.

These items were sold at locations popular among Victorian Era middle and upper middle class tourists including: Niagara Falls, New York State Fairs, and exhibitions up and down the Eastern Seaboard and were often embellished with the location name or date of purchase. Heavily Beaded pincushion circa 1880 (#L6802)

Perhaps because so many of the pieces were purchased during honeymoon trips, the heart became a popular form. A tri-lobed heart was not uncommon and examples of this shape appear as pincushions in the Neville’s collection, all in the heavily raised “Mohawk-style” so popular in the last quarter of the 19th-Century.

This large, stuffed pincushion (circa 1880) is a fine example of Mohawk-style exuberance.                                         The original purple color of the velvet has faded over time.  (#4523/2169)
Iroquois Raised Beadwork is fascinating and important. It relates its maker to the long chain of Iroquois beaders who came before and provides a connection to beaders whose faces we have yet to see. For myself, when I bead sometimes I swear I hear the whispers of the beaders of our past encouraging me to, “do it right, do it well. Keep our voices alive.”

Yaw^ko
Karen Ann Hoffman 

Meet Our Education Specialist

Monday, November 09, 2015

Last March I was offered the amazing opportunity to join the staff of the Neville as the Research Technician.  From helping launch our online image collection Snapshots in Time, to planning youth and adult programs, and to working with our team on the upcoming Life and Death at Fort Howard exhibit, I’ve learned a lot about the museum itself and about the community of Green Bay.  Being from the Madison area I was aware of the Neville and the role Green Bay played in state history (and of course the Packers), but over the past 8 months my family and I have come to learn what a great place to live this really is.  I’m excited to share that I’ve recently been offered the chance to continue my career path here at the Neville by moving into the Education and Events Coordinator position.  I look forward to many more years of providing my friends and neighbors with the types of experiences that make the Neville such a valuable and unique resource.

In this new role I hope to support the Neville’s mission of “Bridging Communities, Connecting Generations” by finding the best ways to serve the many groups and audiences we have here in Brown County.  In the coming months we will be rolling out a handful of new program series’ for kids, families, and adults, and will continue to make changes to our school and youth programs to better fit the needs of educators.  We’ll also be developing programs for scouts, planning summer camps, and making ourselves available for outreach education beyond the museum’s walls.  I look forward to continuing to be part of the exhibit design team where I’ll work to develop interactive and hand’s-on elements for our exhibits that will bring them to life for visitors of all ages.

I can’t say “thank you” enough to my colleagues, new friends, and the community of Green Bay for being so welcoming to my family and me.  I can’t wait to return the favor through my work here at the Neville Public Museum.

 

Ryan Swadley, Education and Events Coordinator 

A Necklace Made of Hair

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Here at the museum we have over 100,000 three-dimensional artifacts in our collection.  They span thousands of years and hail from all around the world.  As Halloween approaches we were thinking about the depth of our collection and how we could show some pieces that don’t get much face time with the public.  We’ve been changing our case the lobby every few months and we thought this would be a great opportunity to feature some of our eerie artifacts.   I’m not going to give too much away here because there are some remarkable artifacts in the case that you should see for yourself.  Hair Necklace ca. 1855

 

When we started preparing for this mini exhibit, we asked our interns to explore our collections with death and mourning in mind.  They came back with unique artifacts including objects from an old funeral home, a mummified bird from ancient Egypt, and mourning jewelry.   All of these objects made it to the exhibit but I found this one piece of jewelry fascinating.  It is a necklace made of hair.  Yes, human hair.   Hair has been used for centuries in different art forms.  In our collections we hold necklaces like this one, pendants, pins, and wreathes. 

 

Civil War Era Hair Wreath

The art of hair jewelry began in a small Swedish town but slowly spread across Europe and was brought to America in the 19th century.  It did not gain popularity until after the death of Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert, in 1861 at which time she wore jewelry made of hair.  There are a few reasons that hair was a great choice for decoration; it does not decay, it can be used with metalwork or precious gems without damaging either, and it is symbolic of the departed. The use of hair jewelry in mourning demonstrates a personal connection with the deceased.

 

 Ambrotype "Aunt Sadi Spencer" ca. 1855

If you look carefully at this picture, you can see the hair necklace from our collection around this woman’s neck. This image is from an ambrotype in the collection from around 1855.  The woman in the photograph is identified as “Aunt Sadi Spencer,” a relative of the Cady family of Green Bay.  After some time in our research library and collections I’m sad to say I was unable to find any further information about Sadi Spencer or who may have died for her to be wearing the necklace.  But we’ll keep an eye out for our mystery woman and if anyone has any information about her we’d love to see it! 

 

You can see these pieces and the rest of the Artifacts of Death exhibit in our lobby until November 14th

 

Lisa Zimmerman, Curator

5 Things You May Not Know about Stompy the Mastodon

Friday, October 23, 2015
Five Things You May Not Know about Stompy the Mastodon

1. He’s not a Woolly Mammoth

Stompy is a mastodon, but what’s the difference?  For starters mastodon tusks were less curved than a mammoth's. Mastodon teeth were different from a mammoth’s as well.  Why was that?  Because Mastodons lived in swampy areas and chewed on branches and shrubs.  Mammoths grazed on grasses in open plains. You can see the difference between the two species teeth just behind Stompy in the exhibit! 

2. His fur is made of cow tails

Stompy is covered in 1,500 cow tails!  The cow tails were washed, bleached, and colored before being adhered to his body.  This was done by the artist to achieve the look of shaggy curly hair which would’ve helped him stay warm at the end of the last Ice Age.

 

 Photo taken in 1983 right after the diorama was installed for the new museum

3. He sheds… so please don’t pet the mastodon  

Stompy is now 32 years old!  Over the years he’s begun to lose a little hair but who wouldn’t after entertaining the masses for three decades?  We’d love for Stompy to stick around another 30 years so please don’t pet him.  He’s a museum favorite and we want to keep him looking shaggy for a long time. The more exposure he gets to human touch the more he will deteriorate just like any other artifact in the museum.

 

4. He was made in Indiana  

When the museum started to plan for their brand new building in 1982, they also began to plan for a new large-scale exhibit about the history of Northeastern Wisconsin.  Part of that story was to be told with a diorama of the Late Pleistocene Period by diorama artists Pat and Theresa Gulley of Williamsport, IN.  The artists modeled Stompy from an elephant at the Indianapolis Zoo.  Stompy was the first piece to be installed in the On the Edge of the Inland Sea.

 

Photo of curator Dennis Jacobs preparing Stompy for the opening of "On the Edge of the Inland Sea"

 

5. He’s only 3/4th the size he should be

Due to size constraints in the exhibit the entire diorama is made at 3/4th size, including the Paleo-Indian hunters.  Imagine Stompy and the hunters just a little bigger next time you go through the Ice Cave!

Bonus Fact: Did you know the crouching hunter wasn’t originally behind Stompy?  He was first installed on the ledge directly across from Stompy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Next time you venture through our Ice Cave we hope you’ll take a second to say hi to Stompy, maybe snap a picture with him and consider how he came to be here at the Neville!

 

Photo take my Mallory VonHaden

 

 

Take a Deep Dive into the Past

Monday, October 05, 2015

Approximately 71% of Earth’s surface is covered with water and yet only about 5% of it has been documented by humans.   Water is vital to life as we know it, yet, we know so very little about what exists in our oceans, seas, or lakes.  Similarly, we know little about how these water systems behave, effect climate, or what secrets they harbor.  Fortunately, over the past century scientists and explorers have begun to access the mysterious depths of our oceans and Great Lakes thanks to advances in technology. 

At the Neville Public Museum, we are revealing these mysterious worlds through exhibits and public programs.   Whether it is shipwrecks, submarines, or sea creatures that interest you, we invite your whole family to come and participate in this exciting adventure taking place in downtown Green Bay. The following exhibits and programs are being offered at the museum.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Exhibits:

Extreme Deep: Mission to the Abyss 

September 19, 2015 – January 6, 2016

Come face-to-face with the last frontier - the deep sea.  Meet Alvin, JASON and Remus, state-of-the-art robotic explorers that will take you on extreme deep adventures.  There you’ll discover bizarre fish and tour sunken ships. 

Shipwrecks of the Fox River

September 19, 2015 – January 6, 2016

This exhibit displays through photographs the removal of nine tugboats, barges and dredges that were extracted from the Fox River between 2013 and 2014. For more than three-quarters of a century, these workhorses of Green Bay’s early shipping days lay sunken in the Fox River Shipwreck Graveyard.  

Navigating our Waterways

September 19, 2015 – January 6, 2016

This series of photographs and historic shipping ledgers illustrates the variety of vessels that worked Green Bay’s waters in pursuit of commerce and recreation.  Whether they were schooners, tug boats, barges, or freighters, they all played a role in the development of this city’s landscape. 

 

Events:

Extreme Deep Adventures

Saturday, October 17, 2015 11 am - 3 pm

All Hands on Deck for Hands-on Fun! Science activities, crafts, demonstrations, and games will be available at the museum for all ages.  Learn about Scuba Diving and Wisconsin’s shipwrecks, Listen to pirate-themed stories and meet Pirate Pete for photo opportunities. Regular admission rates apply.

Extreme Deep Lecture Series

This series evening lectures brings some of the leading experts in their fields of Great Lakes research to the Neville Public Museum.  These lectures are free and begin at 6pm.

October 6: Deep Water Archeology by Tamara Thomsen, underwater archaeologist for the Wisconsin Historical Society

October 13: The Great Lakes: Their Future by Val Klump, Director of the Great Lakes WATER Institute

October 20: Climate Change and the Great Lakes by Julia Noordyk, Coastal Storms and Water Quality Specialist 

Wisconsin Underwater Archaeology and Maritime History Conference

Saturday October 10th (10am – 4pm)  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This annual event brings together underwater archaeologists, maritime historians, and divers, for a day of presentations about maritime history and underwater archaeology in Wisconsin waters and beyond.  Registration is $20 and is open to the public. 

Kevin Cullen, Deputy Director

 

Artifact Research: An Intern's Experience

Monday, September 28, 2015

My time at the Neville Public Museum was extremely educational even though it ended far too soon. I took this internship so I could gather more experience in the museum field. During my internship I worked on a variety of projects and tasks. I began my internship by learning the museum’s cataloging system and database since it varies in different museums. With their database mastered on a basic level I could attach pictures and information. This helped the museum’s digital initiative where every object will have a picture in Argus, though there is a lot to be added yet! A major project I worked on was cataloging two accessions of Kaap’s restaurant artifacts into the museum’s permanent collection. This was a very valuable experience that laid the groundwork for any future cataloging I may do. I learned a great deal at the museum but honing my research skills was the greatest one. I spent a great amount of my time researching artifacts the museum has for research requests and for the future Fort Howard exhibit opening in April 2016.

I worked on two aspects of the upcoming exhibit; women’s clothing and accessories, and weaponry. As fascinating as women’s fashion is during the early 1800s, my favorite aspect of research for Fort Howard was the weaponry and armory because it is just so intriguing! The items held in the collection that date to the Fort Howard era are mostly muskets but other artifacts include: bayonets, swords, pistols, a cannonball, and other various guns. The main armories of the time period we were interested in were the Springfield Armory (the model 1816 being the most abundantly produced), and the Harpers Ferry Armory. During the early 1800s most muskets were flintlock but because the time period for this exhibit extended from 1800-1850 some of the muskets were percussion locks. This was a change that made the guns more reliable and weather resistant than flintlocks. This also meant that some of the guns that were made earlier in the 1800s such as M1816’s were modified from flintlocks to percussion locks. US M1816 Flintlock Musket

A lot of the guns have manufacturer stamps or other marks that can help add provenance to the gun. Examples are proofs for European guns, designs carved or stamped into the gun, initials, and other marks. Below is an example of initials on the handle of a rifle that was locally made in the 1840s. Shotgun made by A.P Hyatt around 1845

Something to remember is that some weapons were brought from Europe before armories became popular in the U.S. During the time period we were interested in, many people probably had guns that had already been imported. The U.S. Army also imported weaponry for the Civil War as well as wars before that meaning Fort Howard likely had imported weaponry and U.S. made weapons.

Though there is a lot more to do for the future Fort Howard exhibit, researching the time period and helping to choose and research artifacts was a great way to push the planning further. Overall I am by no means an expert on weaponry from the early 1800s but I did learn a lot and my research skills are for the better!

 

By Natasha Khan- Intern

9 Things To Do and Not To Do at the Museum (Told by the Neville Dinos)

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

1. Do Enjoy the Interactives

Please pet the beaver fur; that’s what it’s there for!

  

 

2. Do Not Touch the Artifacts

The less we touch the artifacts the longer their life will be… we want them to last another 100 years!

 

 

3. Do Read Labels

There’s a lot of great information in our exhibit that you can find if you read the labels.

 

 

4. Do Not Climb on the Displays

Our displays are 32 years old and were designed by the best in the business.  Please respect their work by not sitting or climbing on the ice cave, the mastodon display or the canoe display.

 

 

5. Do Watch the Videos

Our exhibits feature some great videos including interviews with Packer greats, a 1913 video of Washington Street, and mini-documentary about the Ice Harvest in Green Bay. 

 

6. Do Not Bring Food or Drinks into the Exhibits

Food and beverages are harmful to the exhibits and the artifacts.  Please help us preserve our exhibits by not bringing in anything that attracts bugs!

 

 

 7. Do Look Up

Throughout the exhibits you'll find some great artifacts and displays above your head!

 

 

8. Do Not Run, Wrestle or Rough-House

All of these things can cause harm to you, other visitors and our artifacts.

 

 

9. Do Enjoy the View

Our 2nd floor mezzanine offers one of the best views of downtown Green Bay.

 

We hope you'll remember these when you visit us next time!  In the meantime we hope you follow Arthur, Ella, Frank and Sophie on their adventures in the museum on Twitter @NevilleDinos

 

 

Our Next Local History Exhibit Is...

Monday, August 24, 2015

If you’ve been following the museum on Instagram you may have noticed we’ve been hinting at our next local history exhibit over the last few weeks.  We’ve posted these images (right) asking our followers; first what these things are; and second what they mean to Green Bay.   So what do a statue of Zachary Taylor, an iron shutter guard, a ledger from 1831 and the lines painted in the parking lot at Leicht Park have in common? The answer is Fort Howard. The fort was commissioned in 1816 to protect the western frontier in Wisconsin.  It stood on the ruins of the previous French post, Fort La Baye, just across the street from the museum around where Titletown Brewery stands today.  

(Zachary Taylor served as commander- the shutter guard once held the shutters open at the hospital on site, the ledger is the Quartermasters Ledger- the lines represent where researchers believe the corner of the stockade once stood)

Life and Death at Fort Howard (opening in April 2016) will explore the real stories of the military fort on the western shore of the Fox River.  These stories include tales of murder, grand balls, a love triangle, and relations between the fort and the citizens building a community across the river.   

Over the next seven months we will be sharing special behind-the-scenes pieces via this blog and Instagram.  Some great artifacts have surfaced during our research and we want to share them with you!  Stay tuned! 


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