The Neville Public Museum

The Neville Blog

Coming in 2018....

Wednesday, January 17, 2018
2018 is shaping up to be an exciting year at the Neville!  From exhibits to programming we can’t wait for our visitors to share in these exciting events!  Here’s a little preview of the upcoming year:  

#1 Our Brown County, Opens May 29, 2018

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. Explore these stories through 50 artifacts, 50 photographs, 50 people, and 50 places that demonstrate the complex, diverse, and rich history of Brown County.

#2 Delay of Game: Experience of African American Football Players in Titletown
Opens August 11, 2018

It has been one hundred years since the Green Bay Packers were formed but African American players have only been part of the story since 1950. These athletes made an immediate impact on the game, but what happened off the field? In this exhibit, discover how the challenges and contributions of African American players have changed our community.

#3 Holiday Memories of Downtown Green Bay
Opens November 10, 2018

Celebrate the holiday season at the Neville!  See our Snow Babies, charming “Dolls of Christmas Past,” and enchanted forest that once adorned H.C. Prange department store. Holiday Memories returns as a full gallery exhibit this year.  

Other holiday events include the Children Only Shop, and Bruce the Spruce.  Holiday Memories is a wonderful family tradition.

#4 SPARK! 

We’re proud to introduce our newest program series in 2018: SPARK! 

SPARK! is a cultural program for people with early to mid-stage memory loss and their care partners. Programs are designed to keep  participants actively engaged in their communities by providing experiences that stimulate conversations, provide peer support, and inspire creativity through engaging in museum experiences.

You can find more information about SPARK! at the Neville here. 

#5 Morbid Curiosities
, October 2018

Get your tickets early for this in-demand Halloween-time program!   Explore some of morbid and creepy artifacts in our collections, pulled for one night only. Don't miss your chance to get up close and personal with these rarely-seen objects. 

This is not your average museum tour. Come prepared to laugh, play games, experience the exhibits in a new way, and maybe even touch some stuff.

We can't wait to see you in 2018! 

Top 5 Events and Exhibits from 2017

Thursday, December 28, 2017
Our exhibit team was extremely busy in 2017 installing 15 different exhibits and hosting a variety of fun packed events. We couldn’t possibly re-cap all of them so here are five of our favorite exhibits and events from 2017!

 #1 Neon: Darkness Electrified

Neon: Darkness Electrified illuminates the history and explores the science behind the glowing tubes. Most of these neon signs have disappeared from highways and storefronts. A local collector, Jed Schleisner, works diligently to gather and restore these historic pieces of Americana. Neon opened in July and since thousands of guests have explored the exhibit. The exhibit has also been featured in several events like Electrified: Library Summer’s Reader Day, 90s Night, and a Night at the Museum.

 #2 Morbid Curiosities: 99 Ways to Die

Morbid Curiosities returned in 2017 for its second year. This year 300 guests (doubled from last year) explored deadly museum artifacts. A murder mystery and black light art project provided added Halloween fun! If you missed it this year make sure to get tickets early for next year’s Morbid Curiosities!

#3 Artifact Tournament

In September the museum hosted an Artifact Tournament to select an artifact for the upcoming exhibit Our Brown County. Eight artifacts went head to head in this bracket style competition. Over 400 votes were counted via Facebook and the winner was a Vietnam War Flight Suit worn by John Evans (1965-1973). The Flight Suit will be on exhibit in Our Brown County opening May 29, 2018!

#4 Alice in Dairyland
This year marked the fourth time Brown County hosted the Alice in Dairyland Finals. It was one of the largest finals events ever and was held at the legendary Lambeau Field. In celebration of this event the exhibit Alice in Dairyland opened in January. During the Finals weekend thirty one of sixty nine Alices visited the exhibit. Among them was Margaret (McGuire) Blott, the first Alice. This exhibit explored the impact Wisconsin agriculture has on our everyday lives, along with Alice, in a one of a kind hands-on experience.

#5 Explorer Wednesday Lava Lamps

Each first Wednesday of the month is Explorer Wednesday. From 5-7pm during Brown County Resident Free Night guest can participate in art projects, science experiments, or guided tours of exhibits. In August, guests made their own Lava Lamps!

There were so many more events and exhibits that helped make 2017 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!

Lisa Kain

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: 

Kevin Cullen
Deputy Director 

Who is Ebenezer Childs?

Tuesday, July 12, 2016
The best part about history is that no matter how much you think you know, there’s always something more to every story.  We’ve been learning that lesson again herEbenezer Childs 1856  From the Wisconsin Historical Societye at the Neville Public Museum as part of our research into Fort Howard and the early foundations of Green Bay.  Wealth and power, marriage and divorce, drunkenness and defiance, and even an alleged affair and paternity scandal come together in the story of Ebenezer Childs.

Over a year ago, when we began our initial research for our exhibit Life and Death at Fort Howard, we naturally looked to our collections from the prominent “founding fathers” of Green Bay.  Men like Morgan L Martin, Henry Baird, and many members of the Grignon family were all connected with the first settlers in Green Bay.  However, we kept coming across a man named Ebenezer Childs, who was mentioned throughout many official records and personal correspondences, but who he was and what he did was never really explained.  Using books and articles that researchers before us had written we finally identified this character, and even found that he had written a very short autobiography.

Childs’ memoirs were the piece of the puzzle we needed…or so we thought.  He writes of his many exploits; some as simple as building the first framed home in Green Bay, building the first ox yolk here, partnering with John Arndt to build the first sawmill in the area, and even claiming to have brought the first piece of lead to Green Bay.  Other tales, such as how he eluded the authorities of the fort to illegally sell alcohol to the soldiers, survived harrowing journeys to St Louis and Madison, and outran tax collectors as a young man in his home state of Massachusetts are more fanciful.  However, in a letter to his lawyer, Morgan L Martin, we discovered a whole side of Childs’ life that he did not share in his remembrances.
Ebenezer signs the letter he wrote to his lawyer Morgan L. Martin in 1839.  This letter revealed an unknown part of his life and his connection to a prominent family in Green Bay.
As historians, the case of Ebenezer Childs reminds us of two things.  First, the process of doing history is messy and murky.  Researchers in the present day can only use the sources that have not been destroyed or lost.  Who knows how many stories, people, and events have been forgotten simply because no record of them survives?  The second lesson is that you can’t always believe everything you read.  Childs makes many claims in his own autobiography, but we can also prove he left many things out.  Neither a modern day Facebook profile nor a 150 year old autobiography can tell us the complete story of a person’s life, and it’s easy for the writer to embellish, omit, or simply misremember the facts.

Stay tuned for Part II of this blog, where we reveal the scandals that may have caused Ebenezer Childs to have been “erased” from history.  Or, even better, visit Life and Death at Fort Howard to discover what we know about Childs’ life.  And even better than that, visit us on Wednesday, August 17 at 6:00 p.m. for our Exhibits Exposed program, where we will share new information about Childs that has been discovered even after the exhibit opened along with additional artifacts and stories about the people of early Green Bay.

Frank Hermans of Let Me Be Frank Productions will be bringing the vivacious character to life this weekend only at the museum.  For more information and tickets visit Ticket Star.  


Ryan Swadley 

Museum Education

Public Archaeology at the Site of Fort Howard

Friday, May 27, 2016

On May 20th  and 21st I had the pleasure of leading a public archaeological survey at the site of the historic military site, Fort Howard, in downtown Green Bay. Thanks to special permission from Brent Weycker, owner of Titletown Brewery, we were allowed to set up a survey area behind the brewery along the railroad tracks.  Based on historic maps and previous research, this area is thought to be the location of the southeast section of the former fort.  

More than one hundred people came out both days to learn about the fort’s history and the technology being used to locate it.  Although we know the approximate location of the fort we do not know exactly where the stockade or any of the buildings stood.  The main technology used in the survey was the museums’ Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR). 

GPR is a technology that uses radio waves to “look” into the earth without digging.  The radio waves bounce off of buried objects and are captured on a computer chip.  After the survey area is mapped the data can be sliced in layers using special computer software.  This can reveal patterns that might give clues to the size and shape of buried features and how deep these features are located.

Over the course of the 2 days, 3 survey grids were collected with a total area of 5,433 cubic feet.  The depth that the GPR was looking was just over 6 feet deep.  After processing the data, it was clear that there is large amount of disturbance in the first 2 feet or so, likely from the past hundred years of railroad activity. However below 2 feet things got interesting. 

GPR Maps showing anomalies at 1.2 meters below the surface.  Red and Green shaded areas indicate buried objects / features.

Around 3 feet below the surface, a series of anomalies appeared in all of the survey grids we collected.  Once the grids were stitched together at the same depth, a pattern emerged that strongly points to these anomalies as being human-made and possibly associated with the historic Fort Howard.   At this time we cannot confirm that what the GPR is showing us is the fort but if there was to be a controlled archaeological excavation, we can recommend an exact location to dig.  Known as “ground truthing,” an excavation would prove if what we’re seeing are the remains of wall foundations or something else.  Aerial view of the Fort Howard Military Post prior to its demolition, ca. 1867

In the meantime, we hope to continue surveying the area behind Titletown Brewery, and hopefully beyond, in order to piece together a much larger understanding of Fort Howard.  If the patterns in the data below one meter continue, then it will make for a compelling case that we have located the foundations of the fort that made Green Bay American.  

I will be presenting the findings of our GPR survey at a special Hardcore History event on August 9th at 6pm.  If you want to learn more about the history of the site and Fort Howard’s influence on Green Bay visit our current exhibit Life and Death at Fort Howard open through April 2017! 

Kevin Cullen

Deputy Director

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

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 

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.












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. 



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


Stroll Through Time: Walking Tours of Historic Neighborhoods

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Preservation of historic buildings is a tough task that takes the cooperation of the Historic Preservation Commission and building owners.   On Tuesday night a group of Green Bay residents experienced this first hand when they joined Alderman Mark Steuer for a special walking tour of the Fort Howard neighborhood after his talk on Architecture, Planning, and Politics at the museum. 

Walking through the old homes in the different districts in Green Bay is a nostalgic experience that can speak to the building of our city and the development of our community.  During the walk on Tuesday night, Steuer and company spoke with homeowners and were even invited into the original Blesch home in the Fort HHome designed for Francis Blesch in 1905oward Neighborhood on N Oakland Ave.  This Greek Revival style home, built in 1905, is a rare find in Green Bay. The current homeowners spoke of the challenges in owning a historic home.  When the home was bought in foreclosure a few years ago the homeowners had to go before the planning commission to talk about the repairs they were taking on.

Another home which has gone through a similar transformation is the old Joannes home on S Madison St. in the Astor Neighborhood designed in 1902 for Mitchell and Fannie Joannes.  This Queen Anne style home, which was previously used as a multifamily home, was bought and renovated to reflect its original design.  A 360° virtual tour of this home can be found in the current exhibit Building Our CommunHome designed for Mitchell Joannes in 1902ity along with the original designs and floor plans. 

There’s no shortage of beautiful historic buildings in our community.  After collecting designs, histories and photographs of these structures with the help of the Berners-Schober Architectural Firm we decided to put together walking tours that people can do on their own to enjoy these historic buildings outside of a museum gallery.  We hope that one beautiful day you’ll take a tour of Downtown, the Allouez Neighborhood, the Astor Neighborhood, or the Fort Howard Neighborhood and enjoy the historic beauty that surrounds us in Green Bay.  

You can download these tours on our website or visit our Google Map site here.  You can also find them and many more buildings in the current exhibit Building Our Community: 100+ Years of Architecture & Design in Brown County open through March 26, 2016.   


Upcoming Building Our Community Events

Architectural Segway Tours

August 5th- More dates TBD

$30 members, $40 non-members

Green Bay Architectural History: Panel Discussion and Question

August 11th at 7pm

Free Program



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