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New Teaching Collection Opens Opportunities for Object-Based Learning

Friday, September 05, 2014
How can rocks change from one type to another? What was it like to travel and explore Wisconsin 400 years ago? How did Wisconsin’s early settlers use our natural resources? 
Visitors attending the museum’s newest education program will discover the answers to these questions – and more – by analyzing objects from the newly established teaching collection. 

Made possible through the generosity of Schreiber Foods, the teaching collection complements a new educational program consisting of 20 inquiry-driven, object-based lessons that tie into central themes from the museum’s permanent exhibit, On the Edge of the Inland Sea.
Areas of exploration include:

1. Thinking like a Historian
What does it mean to think like a historian?

2. The Rock Cycle
How can rocks change from one type to another?

3. A Landscape Shaped Over Time
How did the Ice Age shape Wisconsin?

4. Plants and Animals of the Ice Age
What plants and animals existed at the end of the Ice Age?

5. Wisconsin’s First People
How do we know about people who lived long ago?

6. Native Americans in the Old Time
How did Native American people live in the Old Time?

7. The Age of Exploration
What was it like to travel and explore Wisconsin 400 years ago?

8. The Fur Trade Era
Who participated in the Fur Trade?

9. Treaty Making
What happened to Native American lands in the early 1800s?

10. Building a Town / Building a State
What did the U.S. government do with the land that it got through treaties?

11. Natural Resources
How did Wisconsin’s settlers use our natural resources?

12. Civil War
How did the Civil War affect the people of Wisconsin?

13. Immigration
How do people make a new life in a new place?

14. Peshtigo Fire
What factors led to the Peshtigo Fire?

15. Mass Production and Domestic Life
How did mass production change domestic life during the Gilded Age?

16. The Age of Invention
How did the inventions of the early 1900s change Green Bay?

17. Native Americans in the Modern World
How has Wisconsin’s history affected its Native American people and their way of life?

18. World War I
How did World War I affect Wisconsin?

19. Culture in Northeastern Wisconsin
What are some of the cultural traditions in Northeastern Wisconsin?

20. Preserving History
How do people take care of Wisconsin’s history?

Supporting these lessons are a diverse array of objects, ranging from a physics model of a glacier, to the teeth left behind by Ice Age titans, to the material culture of the immigrant groups who would later settle in this region. 
Students will explore the surfaces and materials of authentic and reproduction objects; feeling their weight; and manipulating them, as they must have been handled by their past owners. The physical nature of the activity allows visitors to experience a sense of discovery and excitement as they draw connections between the unfamiliar objects they hold and their own base of experiences. Two new Samsung tablets will supplement the teaching collection, with music, videos, and primary source materials such as photographs, maps, patents, and more!

One of the major strengths of this program is that it is fully customizable and can be adapted to suit a wide range of audiences, interests, and learning modalities. Listed below are just a few of the possibilities:

1.  Target Audience: School Groups
In addition to “Thinking like a Historian” and “Preserving History,” teachers can select up to three areas of focus. These areas will be covered in-depth during their visit and include elements of role-play, storytelling, and hands-on experiences for their students.

2.  Target Audience: High School Students
High school students can volunteer to become Junior Expedition Leaders. Through this mentorship program, students will learn a thematic area and interpretive techniques before progressing to provide family programming on Explorer Saturdays.

3. Target Audience: Families
Beginning in the new year, families visiting the Neville Public Museum on the first day of the month will have the opportunity to participate in Explorer Saturdays, interacting with the Junior Expedition Leaders and objects from the teaching collection.

4. Target Audience: Individuals with Memory Loss
Finally, these objects enable the museum to extend its collections to create meaningful experiences for older adults with dementia and their caregivers.

There are plenty of opportunities to get involved with this exciting program! Teachers may reserve the program for their students by contacting Kirsten Smith at 920-448-7851 or Individuals wishing to volunteer as Expedition Leaders can find the Neville Public Museum’s volunteer application here.

Special thanks to Schreiber Foods for their generous support of this project.

Art Annual Retrospective

Friday, August 29, 2014

For over seventy years, the Neville Public Museum has hosted the Northeast Wisconsin Art Annual. Through the years, this juried art competition has been one of the primary venues where local and regional artist have had the opportunity to present their work to the public and have it appraised by critics. For much of the Art Annual’s history, the Neville has made a point of collecting works that it has considered to be representative of the talents of our regional artistic community. This year, in lieu of a juried competition, the Neville has chosen the occasion to present a retrospective of this Green Bay tradition. 

The first Art Annual opened in November of 1942 under the direction of Earl G. Wright and the curator, Nile Behncke. A grand total of sixty-five works of art were shown, falling into one of two categories: oil paintings and watercolor paintings. Living up to its name, the Art Annual took hold as an institutional  tradition, growing larger by the year. By the 1950s, it was not unheard of for the exhibit to consist of well over one hundred works of art, and in 1960, there were one hundred and ninety works of art listed in the exhibit catalogue! As the popularity of the event grew, so did the region from which it drew. In the early years, only artists residing Brown and nine or ten nearby counties were eligible to participate. By the early 1990s, the Art Annual had expanded its territory into the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. As a sign of this continuing success, next year a total of thirty-eight counties in Wisconsin and Upper Michigan will be eligible to participate in the 70th Art Annual!
Since its inception, the Art Annual has remained an important cultural institution in Green Bay. Each year, the artwork selected by the exhibit’s jurors grants the community an opportunity to assess the vitality of the region’s artistic output. In a typical year, approximately one quarter to one third of the total number of artworks submitted is deemed worthy to be presented as part of the Art Annual. As a way to ensure unbiased criticism, jurors are selected from outside the boundaries of the area of eligible counties. These jurors are most commonly professional artists themselves or individuals working in a university or museum setting. The purpose of these outside eyes is to provide a broader context for the art on display and to generate educated feedback for the artists.

The goal of this retrospective is not merely to haul out works of art that haven’t been seen in decades. Instead, the artwork should be considered along with the criticisms of past jurors and the history of the event itself. Since the first Art Annual, where only painting–oil and watercolor–was represented, the event has grown to include a wide range of media, from metal sculpture to ceramics, to prints and the graphic arts, as well as textiles and even jewelry. Critics have often cited this diversity and broadening of scope as a point of praise. Also, more often than not, the technical aptitude of the artists has caught their attention. 

Artists and their work, however, have had their fair share of constructive criticism leveled at them as well. On more than one occasion, jurors have found it necessary to comment on a lack of individual style. Too often, they’ve observed, it appeared that artists had simply chosen to work in a given style without considering the implications, limits, or purpose of that style. This signals two potentially disastrous trends. First, it indicates that artists—as one juror observed—are being inspired by other artists instead of looking for their own unique voice. This, another juror states, leads to the second and grimmer consequence: it produces art that is irrelevant. Overall, jurors have had good things to say about the artwork that the Neville’s Art Annual garners. Accompanying this praise is always a hope that artists will steer away from relying on work that is derivative and instead use their obvious technical abilities to create work that is unique, modern, and relevant to viewers.
As the Neville approaches its centennial, this retrospective hopes to highlight this important cultural tradition. It is our intent to use this opportunity to spark a dialogue among artists and the public about the value of such a tradition at the Neville Public Museum. What is the purpose of such an event? What expectations should the public have, if any, of the art displayed? What expectations should the artists have of the museum, the jurors, and the public? Most importantly, what is at the core of this event—what is its legacy for future generations? 

 Jordan Koel joined the Neville staff in May 2014. He holds both a B.A. and M.A. in the history of art and architecture. Jordan works closely with Kevin Cullen to assist in research, curation, and the installation of exhibits. His interest in the history of art stems from a curiosity about objects that are perceived as standing outside of the ordinary. While Jordan’s most recent research focused on early medieval sacred art, his areas of interest span a wide range of time periods and mediums.    

Neville Museum Membership Benefits

Friday, August 22, 2014
As the new Executive Director for the foundation one of the things that has really stuck out to me in the last month is how few people know all of the amazing benefits of being a member of the museum. I was telling one of my friends about this great program the museum hosted last week called The Talk of the Town and they did not know it was happening. The program was a free event for members only. There are two more receptions for members this year, in September for the opening of the Art Annual and in November for the opening of the Holiday Memories exhibit and all members will be invited. With that information my friend asked me how to join.

Then I was talking to one of my friends about the Cellar Series that is coming to the Neville in October and November where there will be 3 - two day classes on brewing and bottling your own beer. I told him the classes were $20 each if you are not a member and $15 each if he became a member and guess what? He became a member and instead of paying $60 he paid only $45 saving $15 and paying for almost half of his annual membership.

My last recent experience was seeing one of my friends post photos on Facebook. Her and her family went to Chicago to go to The Field Museum of Natural History. A Neville Museum Membership comes with reciprocal admission to 300 ASTC museums and science centers, including world-class museums in Milwaukee, Chicago and Minneapolis. With a Neville membership they would have saved enough money in Chicago to pay for a membership here in Green Bay that would have also given them free admission for 12 months and a 10% discount in the gift shop.

The moral of this story is to get your Neville card today! You don’t want to miss the opportunity to receive advanced notice of all exhibits and programs that will go along with the Museum’s Centennial in 2015! You also do not want to miss out on free VIP member receptions, discounted program costs, discounts in the gift shop and the ability to save money on visiting museums in other areas. And don’t forget to tell your friends and family like I did so they can receive all of the great benefits too!

To sign up go to:

Kasha Huntowski
Neville Public Museum Foundation Executive Director

Rotating Artifacts:An Intern's Experience

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Variety is the spice of life.  Change is always good in museums for a number of reasons.  One, it keeps things interesting for the visitors.  We want to be able to give visitors something new to look at and look forward to each time they visit.  change is also good for the staff, interns, and collections.  the people working on the exhibit get a chance to check on the condition of the collections and the collection pieces themselves need a break from time to time.  Some artifacts can be sensitive to certain lighting or environments, so while they handle being on exhibit for a certain period of time, it's best to put them back into storage so they don't get "overworked."  

One of the exhibit cases that often changes on a yearly basis is the 1920's case in the Edge of the Inland Sea exhibit.  The plan for that case is for the mannequin to be dressed like a "flapper."  the Neville Public Museum has a great collection of textiles which makes dressing in appropriate attire possible.  My first task was to find out what exactly flappers wore.  Every Halloween there are tons of flapper costumes, but that does not mean they are historically accurate.  I learned that flapper dresses were often rather shapeless and/or had a drop waist, hemlines crept up to around knee-length, and the dresses were often beaded and sometimes sleeveless.  I then went on to research flapper's shoes, hats, and accessories.  At that point I could search through the Neville's collections to identify matches.  I pulled several dresses, a couple pairs of shoes, and some accessories.  

After reviewing the selections with the collections manager, our first choice was a beautiful peach-colored dress with white horizontal beading.  Unfortunately, the sleeves were either badly torn or about to be, so it would not stand to be on exhibit.  We instead chose a lace dress with some colored beaded embellishments at the hip.  It dates from ca. 1925 and was accessioned by the museum in 1979.  Next was just dressing the conservation mannequin in the entire outfit chosen and moving "her' back into the case.  As far as positioning the mannequin, flappers were often known for their dancing, and the case's label mentions that dancing The Charleston was popular in the 1920's, so I wanted to make sure it looked like the mannequin was in motion.  I think the finished produce is an accurate and interesting ode to the 1920's, and that change is something to look for often when visiting the Neville Public Museum.

Rene Wilkerson
Collections Department Intern from the Museum Studies Certificate Program at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee

Etched in Time

Friday, July 11, 2014
Walking into the Neville’s extensive collection of art and artifacts is, like walking into any other museum’s collection, an exhilarating experience. Around every corner is something unexpected. Inside every drawer, sitting on every shelf, is a piece of history with a unique story to tell. It’s a bit like searching for treasure among treasures. In my new capacity at the Neville, it has been imperative that I familiarize myself with as much of the collection as possible. My involvement with exhibits such as Century of Discovery, A World at War, and From Agriculture to Tavern Culture, had provided opportunities to handle everything from landscape paintings to battlefield maps, from eye glasses to pint glasses, and just about everything in between. One day, though, I stumbled across something I hadn’t known was there.  
Behind an unmarked (and unremarkable) door, I discovered a small room brimming with the Neville’s collection of prints. Admittedly, I have a special affinity for prints. Personal preferences aside, a collection of prints such as the one the Neville possess is a valuable source of history and art. I immediately made a mental note that at the first opportunity I would delve into this collection and explore all it had to offer. Conveniently, Kevin (the Neville’s curator) and I had been discussing what would replace the Artistic Discovery exhibit that was installed in the same gallery as A Century of Discovery. Originally, A Century of Discovery had incorporated a number of paintings from our collection, but since then, two intervening exhibits had occupied that wall space. Now, the time had come to reconnect those walls more directly with the rest of the gallery, and I knew just the thing.             

The task of finding prints that related to A Century of Discovery provided a framework that narrowed and guided my exploration of the prints. My first criterion was that the print be dated to the 19th or early 20th centuries, as to coincide chronologically with the rest of the space. The popularity of prints during that time period meant that we had no shortage of images. The second criterion was that the image be in a condition that lent it to being handled and displayed. When prints arrive in the museum’s collection, they are not always in pristine condition. Corners may be torn, stains may mar the scene, or the image may have simply faded. Whatever their condition, all are equally preserved, however not all are considered ready for display. The final and most difficult task was choosing from among the remaining images a subject—or more likely, subjects—that would form an exhibit that was as cohesive as possible.             

Given that the print collection had been out of the public eye for a considerable period of time, one of my priorities was to showcase the breadth of subject matter that it contained. I also sought to find images that were relatable and spoke to as wide an audience as possible. While studying the prints, I began to mentally form small groups of three or four images that shared a theme. Broadly speaking, the images fell into themes such as labor and leisure, town and country, faith and morality, life near the water, and intimate moments. These themes cut across time and geography and help link our lives to those scenes contained in the prints.             

Where I could, I found instances where these themes overlapped and bled into one another, naturally linking one group to the next. For example, grouped with the images of faith and morality is a scene from Faust, where Mephistopheles appears to make his famous pact with the titular character. Across the doorway of the gallery, among the scenes of leisure (mostly drinking scenes, as a nod to the beer exhibit in the next room), is The Right Road, in which a young artist has his own decision to make and chooses to leave the life of debauchery behind him to pursue his art. Both characters are at a crossroads and must make life-altering choices. This is but one example of ideas and themes crossing between larger groups of images. Each viewer may find his or her own themes and are encouraged to do so as they study the prints on display.             

Finally, besides being aesthetically pleasing images, a print collection such as that on display provides a look at what was considered fine art and, more importantly, how people experienced that art. By and large, printmaking was a method concerned with generating reproductions. A brief look at the exhibit will show that rather than indicating the date of the original work of art—such as Raphael’s tapestry designs or Leighton’s wall painting—the dates of the published reproductions have been listed. Often, an engraver would be hired to copy a famous work of art. From that etching, a publishing company could produce numerous copies to be sold to eager art lovers. Printmaking had long been the primary method with which art and literature were disseminated. During the 19th century, advances in print technology meant that images of famous works became even more easily reproducible and affordable for wider audiences. Perhaps the most groundbreaking of these advancements was made possible by another 19th century invention—photography. By combining the new technology of photography with the centuries old process of engraving, a new means of generating reproductions was invented called photogravure, or photoengraving. This technology had the advantage of capturing details and gradations of tone that were not possible before, however it in essence removed the hand of the engraver.       
While the art of engraving is nowhere near as ubiquitous as it once was, viewing prints like those on display can serve as a reminder about how we view art. Technology, more often than not, mediates our experience of art. Today, we often take this for granted. Instead of a sheet of paper run through a press, we are more familiar with glowing screens through which almost any image can be accessed. The explosion digital technology has displaced the media of only a few decades ago, making things possible that could never have been imagined before. Technology and art have long been linked, and as one advances, the other expands and evolves. The images we encounter—no matter the generation—­and how we experience them are a critical factor in our perception of the world around us. However you may feel about art, old or new, I think it is worthwhile to ruminate for a few moments on your own experience of art and how technology may factor into that relationship.

Jordan Koel joined the Neville staff in May 2014. He holds both a B.A. and M.A. in the history of art and architecture. Jordan works closely with Kevin Cullen to assist in research, curation, and the installation of exhibits. His interest in the history of art stems from a curiosity about objects that are perceived as standing outside of the ordinary. While Jordan’s most recent research focused on early medieval sacred art, his areas of interest span a wide range of time periods and mediums.    

Excavating into the Neville Public Museum’s Archaeological Past

Wednesday, July 02, 2014
Put simply, archaeology is the study of the “stuff” (material culture) people in the past made, used and left behind. By studying this material, through careful excavation and documentation, archaeologists are able to paint a picture of how different cultures lived and survived in their unique environments throughout time. As an archaeologist myself and a new curator here at the Neville Public Museum, I was quite pleased to learn that the museum holds one of the largest North American archaeological collections in the State of Wisconsin. This collection primarily includes artifacts made by prehistoric cultures that once lived throughout Wisconsin over the past 10,000 years. These artifacts include stone and copper tools, pottery fragments, faunal remains, etc. Such a collection is invaluable for research in answering the questions of when and where people lived, what they made, and why they may have settled where they did.
Renier Site in the town of Scott
Sometimes, digging back into an archaeological assemblage can spur new questions and remind us that museums are important keepers of our cultural heritage. This was the case in a recent article published in the Green Bay Press Gazette’s “Glimpses of the Past” section (June 30th 2014). The newspaper recounted an article it published on the same date 55 years earlier, in 1959, describing the Neville Public Museum’s excavation of a very important and very old American Indian site located along the southeastern shore of Green Bay in the town of Scott, Brown Co. Known as the Renier Site, (named after the landowner) it dated to the Late Paleoindian Period (ca. 8,500 years ago) and exhibited evidence of belonging to a prehistoric culture known as Eden-Scottsbluff. This culture was first identified on the western Great Plains, so it was significant and surprising when then curator, Ron Mason and Carol Irwin, found remains of these ancient nomadic hunters here in Wisconsin. The site included fragments of projectile points (spear points), of Eden and Scottsbluff types, stone chippage, fire-cracked rock, etc. 

In the 55 years since the Renier Site was excavated, the interpretation of the site and artifacts have helped to narrate the earliest chapter in Wisconsin’s human story. Other Paleoindian sites dating to the end of the last Ice Age in Wisconsin have since been discovered, yet they remain exceptionally rare and difficult to find. Therefore, the Neville Public Museum is privileged to be the caretakers of this collection and indeed of its more than 100,000 three-dimensional objects. It is exciting to know that there are likely to be many more surprises waiting to be “re-excavated” in the years to come.

Kevin Cullen joined the staff of the Neville Public Museum in October 2013.  He is responsible for curating and designing exhibits, researching artifacts, as well as public advocacy for the museum.  His training and experience covers a range of disciplines including: Anthropology, Fermentation, Museum Curation and Design, Terrestrial and Underwater Archaeology, etc.

A Fair Trade-The Neville Public Museum's New Front Desk

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

A Fair Trade –The Neville’s New Front Desk

When I started working for the Neville Public Museum, one of my first concerns was the need to update the image of our front desk. I needed to address the realistic need of a better functioning front desk with the installation of our new Point of Service system. I began calling local colleges to see if they would be interested in taking on a project pro bono. Unfortunately do to the varying levels of skill and rotating students the professors I spoke to at that time were not able to commit.

New Front DeskI thought back to my past experience collaborating with inmates on a work release program. The group worked with me and with a local homeless shelter to complete some much needed maintenance to the building. I thought it would be worth it to reach out to the prison here in Green Bay. After some research I was given the name of Mike Schneider, Education Director of the Green Bay Correctional Institute. He oversees the wood tech instructor Korey Heimke (who works in the prison workshop). I met with both Mike and Korey and explained the project further in detail and asked if they would be interested. They were excited to help out the museum and wanted everyone to see that the prison and inmates can have a positive impact on the community.  

Korey and I worked together to develop a plan that included all of the Neville’s functional needs. Funds to buy the supplies were donated to the museum as part of the Welcome Center initiative from the Cloud Family Foundation. 

The new desk has been delivered and installed, and the front desk staff is excited to have the desk in its new location with the Packer Hall of Fame as its backdrop. Come check out the craftsmanship, the Guest Services staff, and the new and exciting exhibits. 

Jessica Day 
Guest Services Coordinator/Security Manager
Neville Public Museum 

Ashwaubenon School District Technology Project

Monday, May 12, 2014

From the Ice Age to the Age of Invention

Fourth Grade Students Become Virtual Tour Guides

The next time that you visit the Neville Public Museum, bring along your smart phone, tablet, or similar mobile device. With an internet connection and QR code scanner, a 4th grade student from Ashwaubenon School District will be your virtual tour guide. Just look for the QR codes in On the Edge fo the Inland Sea!

What is a QR code?

This symbol is a QR code. It is used to quickly connect smart phones, tablets, and similar mobile devices to online digital content. Scanning these codes in On the Edge of the Inland Sea will direct your mobile device to display a video of your virtual tour guide in the exhibit space.

Who are these tour guides?

One student from each 4th grade classroom in the Ashwaubenon School District was selected to research and create a video interpreting the history of Northeastern Wisconsin. There are 10 videos to discover in On the Edge of the Inland Sea, covering a range of topics from glaciers to electrical inventions.

According to Jamie Averbeck, Ashwaubenon School District’s Technology Integration Specialist who led the project, “Ashwaubenon schools are excited to partner with the Neville Public Museum. It gives our students a real-world experience in creating meaningful digital content for an authentic audience.”

Where can I download a scanner?

QR code scanning applications are available for download in the Google PlayiTunes, and Amazon markets. The museum offers free wireless internet access to guests with non-cellular connected devices.

Visit the Neville Public Museum of Brown County Today!

This exhibit addition entitled, From the Ice Age to the Age of Invention:  The Shaping of Brown County, will open Tuesday, May 13, 2014. 

Be sure to see it while you can and support Ashwaubenon Public School's 4th grade students!

Letter from the Interim Director

Monday, April 28, 2014

Neville Interim Director, Beth LemkeAs I look out my office window I cannot help but notice how the open water on the river reflects joyous movement and progression of a new era for the Neville Public Museum, I am appreciative for those of you whom I have met in person. For those of you I have yet to meet I very much look forward to doing so.

Since January staff have created three major exhibitions that are sure to inspire you. A Century of Discovery highlights museum displays of the past, Touchdown! Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame, Inc. at the Neville Public Museum includes never-before-seen artifacts and photographs as well as rare video footage from the 1930s to the present, and A World at War: 100th Commemoration of the Start of WWI.

We are busy getting ready for the June 14th opening of Agriculture to Tavern Culture: The Art, History and Science of Beer. When partnered with Touchdown! this will be certainly a summer you will not want to miss at your Neville.

For one hundred years, the community has helped us preserve the legacy of the past and with continued support, we look forward to preserving the legacy of the next one hundred years and beyond.

Sincerely, Beth

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