The Neville Public Museum

The Neville Blog

Civil War Era Flag Returns

Wednesday, April 25, 2018
After months of conservation work this Civil War era flag is ready for exhibit! This important piece of Brown County history is more than 12 feet long and 8 feet high.

Flag Conservation
This flag has been at the museum since 1934. When we identified it for exhibit use last year it was clear the 157 year old flag needed some care. There was extensive shredding and areas of loss that made it difficult to exhibit and care for. To exhibit the flag safely, while also considering preservation, the piece needed conservation. A highly trained specialist worked on the flag. They supported the flag by hand stitching nylon tulle around the stripes to stabilize the fabric.

How Did We Identified the Flag?
This flag is believed to be the last flag to fly over Fort Howard. We were able to confirm this by putting together clues from different sources.
  • First was the writing on the upper left hand star: "From Major Shaylor, Old Fort Howard during the War, 1865."
  • Second, is an excerpt from History of Brown County by Deborah Martin that re-caps an event that took place at the Fort Howard in 1861. Martin mentions Mattie Underwood as the maker of the flag which matches the name in museum records. Martin also mentions Major Shaylor as “the venerable custodian of this ancient stronghold"-the same name on the flag.
  • Third is the style of the flag. The 34 stars represent the 34 states of the Union from 1861 to 1865 under President Abraham Lincoln. This canton design is in the “The Great Star” style. This pattern was used in the 1800s but died out after the Civil War. All these clues provided enough information to confirm this is the Fort Howard flag. 



What is Fort Howard? (Hint: Not a paper company)

The U.S. Army arrived on the shores of the Fox River in August 1816, two years before Brown County became a county. They established Fort Howard, changing the dynamic of the community and influencing what it is today. Fort Howard operated until 1852 when it was de-commissioned. In the following years a volunteer infantry used the site under the care of Major Shaylor. On May 3, 1861 President Lincoln made a speech calling for volunteers to join the Union Army. On May 18th, people of Green Bay and the surrounding areas put together a special event at Fort Howard. It supported Lincoln’s call and included the raising of this impressive flag. During the Civil War soldiers trained at Fort Howard before leaving for the South. Eventually, Chicago & North Western Railroad bought the land and the buildings were officially de-commissioned in 1872.

Ready for Exhibit
After all of this work on the flag and research we’re ready to share the flag with you! This remarkable artifact will be a centerpiece in the upcoming exhibit Our Brown County. Experience it for yourself starting May 29th!

Lisa Kain
Curator

Take Me Out to the Ballgame

Wednesday, March 28, 2018
Baseball has been America’s pastime since the 1800s and Opening Day remains an annual celebration for many fans across the country. 
The Stiller team playing at the their home field at Bay Beach
Did you know?  Green Bay has its own rich baseball history.  The first club in the area was known as the “Stars” and was organized in 1866.  By the 1920s and 1930s Green Bay had several baseball teams, many of which were connected to well-known local businesses.  Each team had a home field and played on Sunday afternoons.  Games had to be played during the day because electricity wasn’t available at the ballparks.  



One of Green Bay’s teams in the 1920s and 1930s was the Stiller team which was managed, coached, and sponsored by Ernest Stiller (of the Stiller Company).  The Stiller’s star players were the Collard brothers: Arthur (first base), Norb (second base), and Clem (shortstop).  
  This uniform was worn by one of the Collard brothers around 1925 and will be on display in the upcoming exhibit Our Brown County.
Green Bay has remained a baseball city and has been home to many teams like the Green Bay Bluejays, a farm team for the Dodgers in the 1950s and 1960s, and the Green Bay Bullfrogs who have played at Joannes Stadium since 2007.  

Why Does the Museum Have an Emmy?

Monday, November 20, 2017
The entertainment industry of Hollywood has been around since the early 1900s. We’ve watched all the films, seen all the television shows, and watched in awe as the stars hit the red carpet. It is almost hard to believe that something like this could hit close to home. Dan Smith, a native to the Green Bay area, is one of our hometown Hollywood heroes.



Dan Smith’s Emmy

Dan Smith broke into the Television Industry as a director. In the 1940s he put on a series of shows with his involvement in the “Neighborhood Playhouse Theater”. He held yearly summer plays after rehearsing with the kids all summer. They showcased the final product to the community in front of his garage to close out the summer.

He received his big break as an assistant director on The Ed Sullivan Show during the 1960s, worked on The Merv Griffin Show, The Joey Bishop Show, and directed several commercials, game shows and soap operas. It was not until 1987 however, that Dan Smith received the utmost recognition for his work. He directed a children’s mathematics program for a PBS series entitled Square One Television. It was for this project that he was awarded a Daytime Emmy Award for Best Director. The following year, he was nominated in the same category for the same program. In 2002, Dan Smith gifted his Emmy award to the Neville Public Museum and is now a part of the permanent collection.



Origin of the Emmy

The first ever Emmy Awards were held on January 25th, 1949 with three separate categories, Primetime, Daytime, and L.A. Area Awards. When it came to finding a design for the statue the winners would receive, the Academy turned down forty-seven designs before finding the perfect fit. The design for the statue was created by Television Engineer Louis McManus who used his wife as his model. This design was chosen by the Academy Board Members in 1948. The statue's design is a woman with wings holding an atom, and each portion has a different meaning. The wings are supposed to be representative to the muse of art, while the atom that the figure is holding represents the electron of science. An Emmy weighs about six pounds and twelve ounces and is made of copper, nickel, silver and gold. It was named by Television Engineer and third Academy President Harry Lubke, when he selected the name “Immy” after an Early Image Orthicon Camera; it was later altered slightly to “Emmy”.

Morgan Moe
Intern
UW- Green Bay

Keeping the Holidays Alive

Thursday, November 09, 2017
Each year the museum puts together holiday displays from our collection of figurines that once decorated the windows at H.C. Prange Co. in downtown Green Bay. Dolls of Christmas Past are displayed in vignettes on our stage and Snow Babies play outside our gift shop. This year is no different but you may notice that we changed some things about our displays compared to years past. We decided not to have our dolls move this year.



As with all our exhibits, when they are completed we inventory and do condition reports before returning the artifacts back to storage. After Holiday Memories last year, we did an extensive condition report of the artifacts. In looking closely we discovered evidence of stress. Piles of rust at the feet of some of the figures are a clue that something was happening internally that we cannot see on the outside.


Rust is caused by corrosion, a natural process where metal is gradually destroyed. Running the dolls causes the metal rods to move resulting in the rust falling from the rods inside the figurines. This leaves the piles you see in the picture above. Running the dolls constantly, even for a two month exhibit, causes strain on the internal mechanics. Piles of rust weren’t the only things we found while performing our condition reports. We also found issues with the clothing and brown marks on the surface of some of the figurines. Both of these things can happen over time.

 The brown marks on this doll are not freckles. Dolls like this were made using a hard plastic. This Plastic breaks down over time and can begin to “sweat” leaving brown marks on the surface of the figurine. The marks are caused by an oily liquid oozing out of the doll. The ooze can also leave a tacky slime behind.

The brown marks on this doll are not freckles. Dolls like this were made using a hard plastic. This Plastic breaks down over time and can begin to “sweat” leaving brown marks on the surface of the figurine. The marks are caused by an oily liquid oozing out of the doll. The ooze can also leave a tacky slime behind. This picture shows one of the issues we found with the felt and textiles of our figurines’ clothing. Over time the fabric has deteriorated, ripped, faded, or become stained.

This picture shows one of the issues we found with the felt and textiles of our figurines’ clothing.  Over time the fabric has deteriorated, ripped, faded, or become stained.

This year, we are decreasing the stress put on our dolls to help ensure that we can display them well into the future.

James Peth
Research Technician

Artifact Tournament Championship

Wednesday, September 27, 2017
This is the final round! The winning artifact in this match will be featured in the upcoming exhibit Our Brown County! . Our Brown County is a celebration of 200 years of history focusing on the stories that make Brown County the place we choose to live, work, and play. All voting must be done September 29th on the museum’s Facebook Page.




Vietnam Flight Suit, 1965-1973
The man who wore this flight suit flew high above the terrain of Vietnam, Thailand, and the Philippines between 1965 and 1973. John Evans volunteered for the U.S. Airforce and served as a combat aerial photographer. During the war, Evans was frequently shot at, but luckily was never shot down. After leaving the Air Force he became a lawyer and worked for Brown County and Oconto County. In 2016, Evans lost his battle with lung and brain cancer believed to have been caused by exposure to Agent Orange.

Hotel Northland Switchboard, 1930s-1950s
The Hotel Northland was at the center of a booming downtown Green Bay, hosting celebrities, Green Bay Packers players and staff, and a wealth of other people during its time as a hotel. This piece of communication technology from the mid-twentieth century connected calls from the outside to hotel guests during their stay in Green Bay.

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!  







Is Barbie Crying?

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

 

Here at the Neville Public Museum we care for an extensive doll collection.  This collection houses dolls from around the world including Barbie dolls.  The Barbies in our collection range in date from the 1950s through the 1990s.  Through time the materials used to make barbies changed.  Here are a few examples from our collection.

This Barbie was received as a gift from the Neville Public Museum Corporation.  It was purchased from Georgia Rankin, a Barbie collector from Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin in the 1960s.  The black and white swimsuit worn by the doll is the original outfit traditionally worn by dolls manufactured from 1959-1961.  

 

 

This picture shows one of the newer Barbies in our collection.  It's a part of the Hollywood Legends Collection/Collector's Edition and represents Glinda the Good Witch from the Wizard of Oz.  

Although both of these dolls were manufactured by the same company, they were created using different materials.  This means we have to care for these dolls in different ways.  Glinda the Good Witch was manufactured in the 1990s and was donated in her original box.  The change in plastic used in manufacturing allows us to store the doll in regular collections storage.  

 

The Barbie from Georgia Rankin is not stored with the other dolls in our collection; she is actually stored in collections cold storage with lower humidity.  This is because the doll was made using earlier plastics. 

The plastics used for Barbie dolls manufactured in the 1950s and early 1960s used PVC, which is brittle.  In order to make Barbie flexible, they added a plasticizer when the doll was being molded.  As these dolls age, the plasticizer can ooze out of the doll and form a tacky slime across the surface.  This is why some dolls can appear to be wet.  Warm and humid environments can cause the oozing to occur earlier.  By storing some of our Barbies in cold storage we are able to slow this process and preserve them longer. 

James Peth, Research Technician 

Neville's Collection of Cat Art

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The arrival of Feline Fine: Art of Cats has us excited here at the museum.  Avid cat lovers have already shared almost 1,000 photos for our #NevilleCats Instagram contest!  Next week the top 12 photos will be chosen for a special photography exhibit in our lobby.    Other photos will be selected for digital display in Feline Fine!  

Beyond looking at all those cute cat photos, I wanted to know more about what type of cat art we had stored away in our collection.  I’m happy to share what I found!

Defiance by Rosetta (2000.42.1)

 

This bronze tiger was a part of a previous exhibit, Art and the Animal in 2000.  This piece has been exhibited across the country and has even been displayed in Italy.  The piece was purchased in honor of Neville Public Museum board member, Fred Baer.   Rosetta has four bronze sculptures on display in Feline Fine.  

 

 

Cat Figurine (1990.61.17)

This house cat figurine came to the museum in 1990 from the Hazelwood Historic House Museum.  It is a casting of a cat created in Boston in the first half

of the 20th century.  Our card catalog states the piece was “used by the Hazelwood caretaker”.   

 

 

 

 

 

Untitled by O. Dickenson, 1846 (1997.114.4)

 

This painting also came to the museum from Hazelwood Historic House Museum.  Hazelwood (built in 1837) was home to Morgan L. Martin and his family.  This painting comes from this home but it’s hard to say if it hung while the Martin’s lived there.  Either way it lends to our cat art theme! 

We have more cat themed fun coming up this spring, including two cat adoptions with the Bay Area Humane Society.  We are also partnering with Cats Anonymous and Bay Area Humane Society for our Exhibits Exposed on March 16th.  This event will feature the pieces mentioned here and our mummy cat!    

Also during the run of Feline Fine visitors can help out the Bay Area Humane Society and get half-price admission to the museum by bringing in any item (not just cat-related!) from the BAHS wish list.  Half-price admission with donation is available Tuesday-Friday from March 6th through April 17th! 

 

Lisa Zimmerman, Curator

Exhibits Exposed

Tuesday, January 12, 2016
One of my favorite things about working at the Neville is that there is always something new to see or do at the museum.  This past year we’ve borrowed two great exhibits (Spies, Traitors, and Saboteurs and Extreme Deep:  Mission to the Abyss), developed a great exhibit about local history (Building Our Community: 100 Years of Architecture and Design), and hosted several art exhibits showcasing works from the region and beyond. 

When our team met recently to discuss ideas for 2016, one of our goals was to find new ways to provide our visitors with unique, one-of-a-kind experiences.  In response, we developed a new program series called “Exhibits Exposed,” which will take place the third Wednesday evening of each month, starting at 6:00.  In this program you’ll join one of our experts on staff for a tour of a featured exhibit, and learn some of the facts and stories that didn’t make it onto the labels.  Then, you’ll have a chance to view some iconic artifacts pulled from our collection that are usually not available to the public.

My colleagues and I are very excited for the chance to share these rarely-heard stories, and even more rarely-seen artifacts from the Neville’s amazing collection.   We hope you’ll be able to join us for these intimate and lively discussions.

 

 

Exhibits Exposed Schedule
January 20:  Iroquois Beadwork and Sisters in Spirit
February 17:  The Fur Trade in Green Bay
March 16:  Feline Fine and the Art of Cats
April 20:  Stories of Life and Death at Fort Howard
May 18:  Art and Artists of Green Bay
June 15:  The Ice Age is Coming
July 20:  Interstellar Overdrive – Eyes on the Sky
August 17:  More of Life and Death at Fort Howard
September 21:  Frozen Green Bay
October 19:  Haunted Wisconsin
November 16:  Holiday Memories

All programs take place the third Wednesday evening of each month at 6:00 and are free with regular museum admission.  Sessions will be capped to ensure a personalized experience; additional sessions will start on the half hour as needed.

Ryan Swadley
Education Specialist

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