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

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
Curator

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

Vietnam Flight Suit Wins the Artifact Tournament

Monday, October 02, 2017
Voting is over and the results are in! The flight suit worn by John Evans during the Vietnam War is the winner. Thank you to everyone for participating in the artifact tournament for 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. Explore these stories through 50 artifacts, 50 photographs, 50 people, and 50 places that demonstrate the complex, diverse, and rich history of Brown County. Our Brown County opens May 29, 2018!



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. Air Force 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.

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.

Fort Howard: A Building Block for America

Monday, June 19, 2017
With Independence Day right around the corner there is no better time than now to reflect on how our very own Green Bay became American Fort Howard prior its to dismantling ca. 1867. The patriotism shared today for the ideal of being American wasn’t always held by the people of this area. This area was settled by both the French and English well before Americans laid down control of this portion of Wisconsin through Fort Howard. Fort Howard, which was right across street from the Neville Public Museum, was the key to the Americanization of this area during the early 19th century.

The land surrounding the Fox River was highly desired for it controlled trade through the waterway. Three hundred years ago in 1717 the French were first stationed in Green Bay. The French fort, Fort La Baye, like Fort Howard was built on the opening of the Fox River. The French fort stood until 1760; for 43 years the French were a major influence in North Eastern Wisconsin. We can see the impact of the French in Wisconsin, especially in our area, when we think of Charles De Langlade, also known as the “Father” of Wisconsin, who was a French military officer. De Langlade and his family were one of the first inhabitants of Green Bay.

After the French had abandoned their location during the Fox Wars the English relocated to where Fort La Baye had stood and built Fort Edward Augustus. The English also saw the potential of the Fox River. Fort Edward Augustus was abandoned in 1763 during the Pontiac Uprising, yet the inhabitants of Green Bay remained dedicated to the English.

After the War of 1812 the British no longer had claim to the area and plans were being made for American forces to be moved into the area to control the Fox River. This wasn't the only reason the 3rd Regiment of the United States Army Infantry was placed in Green Bay. The larger goal of placing American soldiers here was to "Americanize" this newly attained land and to acclimate the people of the area with a new spirit of patriotism.

Fort Howard was vital for America's grasp on the Northwestern frontier. Our very own Fox River was hugely important in America's expansion to the West. Through the control of trade on the waterway that was so sought after by the other nations America now had another key to prosperity. Looking back I never fully realized how truly important our own little area was to the growth of this part of the nation. Over the last couple weeks I have been able to explore artifacts from the Neville's collection that were used in the Life and Death at Fort Howard exhibit which ran from April 2016 through April 2017. From maps to muskets the story that is told through the artifacts of Fort Howard speak volumes on how influential the fort was in creating the place we call home today.

If you want to learn more about America's beginnings and the men who forged the way don't miss our upcoming event America! on June 21st. You can get more information and tickets here.
 

Madeline Palecek
Intern
UW-Milwaukee

H.C. Prange Co. Mirror

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

The Monowheel Returns

Friday, September 30, 2016

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

What is a monowheel?

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

What do we know about the monowheel?

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

What don’t we know about the monowheel?

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

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

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

Lisa Kain
Curator 

We're on Snapchat!

Monday, September 26, 2016

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

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








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