The Neville Public Museum

The Neville Blog

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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  After Prohibition was repealed in 1933, the brewery was back in business and began pumping out “Standard,” “Special,” “Belgian” and “Old Imperial Pale Beer.”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: http://www.nevillepublicmuseum.org/neville-cellar-series 

Kevin Cullen
Deputy Director 


Our Mammoth Sculpture Has a Name!

Wednesday, August 31, 2016


Thank you to everyone who voted on the name for our new mammoth sculpture!  After over 800 community votes our sculpture has been named Tundra!  

Tundra was created by Carl Vanderheyden in collaboration with John Koester and is made from three recycled 250 gallon heating oil tanks from the Green Bay area. Tundra stands 7 feet tall and weighs 750 pounds.  

We would like to extend a special thank you to the Romaine & Mary Schanock Family Foundation and Renco Machine Company for making this project possible.  


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 

Why See an Exhibit about Brown County Architecture?

Thursday, June 04, 2015

When many of us hear that there is an exhibit at the museum about “architecture” we may not get overly excited, especially when we are looking forward to major traveling exhibits about spies and deep water exploration.  When I was hired three months ago as the new Assistant Curator I was excited for Spies, Traitors, & Saboteurs (now open through September 6th) but I was also intrigued by an exhibit focused on one architectural firm and its body of work in Brown County.  During my first 8 weeks on the job, my main focus was working with a team to prepare this “architecture” exhibit called Building Our Community: 100+ Years of Architecture & Design in Brown County.    It didn’t take long for me to realize that the remarkable story this exhibit tells goes  far beyond some old blueprints.  This exhibit is an exploration of how one architecture firm, Berners-Schober Associates, has changed the landscape of Northeastern Wisconsin and how their work has touched thousands of lives throughout the last century.  People live, work, and play every day within the walls of their designs.  What this firm has created in their lifetime is deeply rooted in our community’s history and has shaped the way people of Brown County live their lives. 

 YMCA Downtown Green Bay Postcard (18.1988.115)When you experience this exhibit you may be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of work the Berners-Schober firm has done since its inception in 1898, but the reality is that what is displayed here is only the tip of the iceberg.  During the firm’s lifetime, they have been involved in thousands of projects; this exhibit only includes 175 of these undertakings.  To get the most out of this exhibit you will need to visit more than once, and you will want to. These are buildings we all visit at one time or another; the Brown County Public Library, the Downtown YMCA, Bay Beach Pavilion, and East High School, just to name a few. If you live in Brown County it’s undoubted that you have spent time in at least one of these buildings.  

 While growing up in Brown County I spent countless hours in several of these buildings but didn’t give any thought about how they came to be or their architectural significance.  After living elsewhere for the last 5 years I’m happy to be back in Green Bay and this exhibit process has been an opportunity for me to get reacquainted my hometown and its history.  I hope it does the same for others and encourages visitors to stop and take a look at the architectural beauty that surrounds us in Brown County.  Building Our Community is open now through March 2016.  

 

Lisa Zimmerman, Curator

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.    


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