The Neville Public Museum

The Neville Blog

Iroquois Raised Beadwork with Karen Ann Hoffman

Tuesday, November 17, 2015
Over the last year the museum staff has had the pleasure to work with two Wisconsin artists in the creation of our current exhibit Sisters in Spirit: Native American Stories in Rocks and Beads.  Geri "Sisters in Spirit" on exhibit until February 14, 2016Schrab contributed the rock art watercolors featured in the exhibit, many of which are based on rock art sites in Wisconsin. Karen Ann Hoffman uses her tribe’s traditional Iroquois raised beadwork to celebrate the legends of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois).  Together the exhibit presents a compelling glimpse of the continuing influence of Native Americans on contemporary Wisconsin art.

Karen Ann’s contemporary work takes inspiration from the historic pieces like the artifacts in the museum’s collection.  When Karen Ann took some time to look at our collection’s Iroquois raised beadwork we asked if she’d be willing to share her thoughts in a blog.   So here is a guest blog post from Karen Ann Hoffman about the art of Iroquois raised beadwork and the museum’s collection.  Enjoy!

Lisa Zimmerman, Curator

Iroquois Raised Beadwork 

Iroquois Raised Beadwork is a rare and beautiful style of Native American art which originated in the Eastern Great Lakes region. This art is a material language which embodies, preserves and expresses Iroquois world view. Its forms and designs reach back over ten-thousand years. The motifs were first executed with bone and shell, later with moose-hair and hide and, since the 1500’s, with glass beads and trade cloth.


I want to thank my teachers: Samuel Thomas and Lorna Hill for instructing me in the the cultural connections and responsibilities that make Iroquois Raised Beadwork so rich and meaningful. Thanks are also due to the Neville Museum for exhibiting my contemporary Iroquois Raised Beadwork. I have come to understand that pieces I produce today, should stand, not for me as an individual; but for our Iroquois world view. That someday, long after my name is forgotten, my beadwork will need to speak about us in a strong, clear voice.

The Iroquois Raised Beadwork pieces in the Neville Museum’s collection represent a different segment of Iroquois beadwork often termed “Whimseys”, though some feel this term trivializes the artform (Elliott, Preserving Tradition and Understanding the Past: Papers from the Conference on Iroquois Research, 2001–2005). They were likely made in New York or Canada by members of the Mohawk and Tuscarora communities specifically for sale to the tourist market in the mid to late 1800’s.

Mohawk-style beadwork of this period, is often characterized by a heavier, more opulent beadwork style using larger seed beads than the Tuscarora-style work which may exhibit more intricate beadwork patterns using smaller seed beads. Some pieces have characteristics of both styles.
Whisk Broom Holder dated 1905. Mohawk style (#R32-5)
Iroquois beaders developed items which would appeal to the souvenir market: pin cushions, needle cases and match holders.

These items were sold at locations popular among Victorian Era middle and upper middle class tourists including: Niagara Falls, New York State Fairs, and exhibitions up and down the Eastern Seaboard and were often embellished with the location name or date of purchase. Heavily Beaded pincushion circa 1880 (#L6802)

Perhaps because so many of the pieces were purchased during honeymoon trips, the heart became a popular form. A tri-lobed heart was not uncommon and examples of this shape appear as pincushions in the Neville’s collection, all in the heavily raised “Mohawk-style” so popular in the last quarter of the 19th-Century.

This large, stuffed pincushion (circa 1880) is a fine example of Mohawk-style exuberance.                                         The original purple color of the velvet has faded over time.  (#4523/2169)
Iroquois Raised Beadwork is fascinating and important. It relates its maker to the long chain of Iroquois beaders who came before and provides a connection to beaders whose faces we have yet to see. For myself, when I bead sometimes I swear I hear the whispers of the beaders of our past encouraging me to, “do it right, do it well. Keep our voices alive.”

Yaw^ko
Karen Ann Hoffman 

A Necklace Made of Hair

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Here at the museum we have over 100,000 three-dimensional artifacts in our collection.  They span thousands of years and hail from all around the world.  As Halloween approaches we were thinking about the depth of our collection and how we could show some pieces that don’t get much face time with the public.  We’ve been changing our case the lobby every few months and we thought this would be a great opportunity to feature some of our eerie artifacts.   I’m not going to give too much away here because there are some remarkable artifacts in the case that you should see for yourself.  Hair Necklace ca. 1855

 

When we started preparing for this mini exhibit, we asked our interns to explore our collections with death and mourning in mind.  They came back with unique artifacts including objects from an old funeral home, a mummified bird from ancient Egypt, and mourning jewelry.   All of these objects made it to the exhibit but I found this one piece of jewelry fascinating.  It is a necklace made of hair.  Yes, human hair.   Hair has been used for centuries in different art forms.  In our collections we hold necklaces like this one, pendants, pins, and wreathes. 

 

Civil War Era Hair Wreath

The art of hair jewelry began in a small Swedish town but slowly spread across Europe and was brought to America in the 19th century.  It did not gain popularity until after the death of Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert, in 1861 at which time she wore jewelry made of hair.  There are a few reasons that hair was a great choice for decoration; it does not decay, it can be used with metalwork or precious gems without damaging either, and it is symbolic of the departed. The use of hair jewelry in mourning demonstrates a personal connection with the deceased.

 

 Ambrotype "Aunt Sadi Spencer" ca. 1855

If you look carefully at this picture, you can see the hair necklace from our collection around this woman’s neck. This image is from an ambrotype in the collection from around 1855.  The woman in the photograph is identified as “Aunt Sadi Spencer,” a relative of the Cady family of Green Bay.  After some time in our research library and collections I’m sad to say I was unable to find any further information about Sadi Spencer or who may have died for her to be wearing the necklace.  But we’ll keep an eye out for our mystery woman and if anyone has any information about her we’d love to see it! 

 

You can see these pieces and the rest of the Artifacts of Death exhibit in our lobby until November 14th

 

Lisa Zimmerman, Curator

Artifact Research: An Intern's Experience

Monday, September 28, 2015

My time at the Neville Public Museum was extremely educational even though it ended far too soon. I took this internship so I could gather more experience in the museum field. During my internship I worked on a variety of projects and tasks. I began my internship by learning the museum’s cataloging system and database since it varies in different museums. With their database mastered on a basic level I could attach pictures and information. This helped the museum’s digital initiative where every object will have a picture in Argus, though there is a lot to be added yet! A major project I worked on was cataloging two accessions of Kaap’s restaurant artifacts into the museum’s permanent collection. This was a very valuable experience that laid the groundwork for any future cataloging I may do. I learned a great deal at the museum but honing my research skills was the greatest one. I spent a great amount of my time researching artifacts the museum has for research requests and for the future Fort Howard exhibit opening in April 2016.

I worked on two aspects of the upcoming exhibit; women’s clothing and accessories, and weaponry. As fascinating as women’s fashion is during the early 1800s, my favorite aspect of research for Fort Howard was the weaponry and armory because it is just so intriguing! The items held in the collection that date to the Fort Howard era are mostly muskets but other artifacts include: bayonets, swords, pistols, a cannonball, and other various guns. The main armories of the time period we were interested in were the Springfield Armory (the model 1816 being the most abundantly produced), and the Harpers Ferry Armory. During the early 1800s most muskets were flintlock but because the time period for this exhibit extended from 1800-1850 some of the muskets were percussion locks. This was a change that made the guns more reliable and weather resistant than flintlocks. This also meant that some of the guns that were made earlier in the 1800s such as M1816’s were modified from flintlocks to percussion locks. US M1816 Flintlock Musket

A lot of the guns have manufacturer stamps or other marks that can help add provenance to the gun. Examples are proofs for European guns, designs carved or stamped into the gun, initials, and other marks. Below is an example of initials on the handle of a rifle that was locally made in the 1840s. Shotgun made by A.P Hyatt around 1845

Something to remember is that some weapons were brought from Europe before armories became popular in the U.S. During the time period we were interested in, many people probably had guns that had already been imported. The U.S. Army also imported weaponry for the Civil War as well as wars before that meaning Fort Howard likely had imported weaponry and U.S. made weapons.

Though there is a lot more to do for the future Fort Howard exhibit, researching the time period and helping to choose and research artifacts was a great way to push the planning further. Overall I am by no means an expert on weaponry from the early 1800s but I did learn a lot and my research skills are for the better!

 

By Natasha Khan- Intern

Summer Programs at the Neville

Friday, July 10, 2015

This summer the Neville Public Museum is proud to host two amazing temporary exhibitions; Spies, Traitors, and Saboteurs:  Fear and Freedom in America on loan from the International Spy Museum in Washington D.C, and Building Our Community:  100 Years of Architecture and Design in Brown County, which was created in collaboration with architects from Berners-Schober A"Building Our Community: 100+ Years of Architecture & Design in Brown County"ssociates.

As if the exhibits weren’t enough, the Neville is providing the following free public programs that explore the themes within our galleries in greater detail!

Architecture, Planning, and Politics

Tuesday, July 14, 2015, 7:00 p.m.

Alderman Mark Steuer will discuss the development of the Fort Howard and Broadway districts, and the efforts of the Historic Preservation Commission to protect and maintain the city’s historic structures.   After the program join Mark for a walking tour of Fort Howard!

America's Most Infamous Terrorist Organization Goes Mainstream: The Ku Klux Klan Marches Down Pennsylvania Avenue

Tuesday, July 21, 2015, 6:00 p.m.

Join UW-Baraboo/Sauk County professor Mike Jacobs for a presentation about the Ku Klux Klan, America's most infamous and formidable terrorist organization. During the 1920s the KKK tried to cast itself as the true expression of American patriotism and the American people.  Millions of people agreed - joining the organization and diversifying their activities beyond their reputation of intimidation and violence. Hate in "Spies, Traitors, and Saboteurs"

Fear, Freedom, and Foreigners: Close to Home

Tuesday, July 28, 2015, 6:00 p.m.

Wisconsin reflected locally the national issues that this series, SPIES, TRAITORS, SABOTEURS: Fear and Freedom in America explores.  Dean Strang, J.D.  will present one of these local stories. A 1917 trail of Italian alleged anarchists in Milwaukee, in the first fearful days off this nation's fighting in WWI, became a proxy proceeding for the deadly, unsolved bombing of Milwaukee's central police station.  That nearly-forgotten bombing killed more American police officers than any other act of terror until September 11, 2001.  

Green Bay Architectural History

Tuesday, August 11, 2015, 7:00 p.m.       

Drawing on the architectural and engineering firm's 117+ year history, several members of Berners-Schober will hold a panel discussion on significant Green Bay structures.  The panel will include Ian Griffiths, Libby Parrish, Derek Gruber, and Kristin Pritchard, along with other firm members who were involved in researching their current Neville exhibit featuring the firm's buildings.  They will discuss the chronology of Green Bay's development through the work of the firm, and answer questions on historic business, public, and residential buildings.

100 Years of Collecting Shoes

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

The museum’s newest display features seven pairs of shoes.  You can find them in the lobby, in a special case dedicated to exhibiting unique aspects of the museum’s collection during our centennial year.  The shoes on display here are only a small fraction of what lies in the museum’s collection. Since 1915 the museum has collected 339 pairs of shoes in all shapes, sizes, and styles including moccasins, slippers, sabots and boots.   (Fun fact: one of our most recent additions is a pair of 20th century Hmong funeral slippers.) 

 

 The shoes currently on display were chosen because they represent how women’s footwear evolved between 1830 and 1920.  Throughout the 19th century, even though shoes were meant to be functional, heels grew and vibrant colors became more common.  In the 1920s fashionable shoes became even more popular as skirt lines ascended.  Decorative aspects were added and heels became more important for they gave the foot a sleeker and more feminine look. 

These shoes will be on display through the end of September. In October we’ll roll out another part of our collection!  

cation w

Victorian Secrets at the Neville

Friday, May 08, 2015

A couple weeks ago, we had an interesting luncheon program here at the museum.  It featured a presentation on underwear…Victorian era underwear to be exact.  The Victorian period ranges from 1837-1901, beginning at the time of Queen Victoria’s reign and lasting until her death.   When we think about this time period we often think about the big dresses but what we overlook is how much is going on underneath.  

As the staff was thinking about this unique topic, our director decided this would be a great opportunity to display some artifacts from our collection that aren’t usually exhibited.  So we pulled these four pieces from storage for the program and our blog readers will get to view a special bonus artifact not featured in the program!

BustlesBustle

Object #375/248:  This bustle is a great example of a “man” made bustle from ca. 1880.  During the late 1800s men realized that there was money to be made in the ladies undergarment business and thought they could create a better bustle.  This spring bustle is made of the same springs that would be found in a bed or other furniture.  

Object #7220/3075: This bustle was meant to create the “swan” shape that was popular towards the end of the Victorian era ca. 1890.  It is padded with horsehair which you can actually see poking out in the image.  These types of bustles were mass produced.   Bustle

 

 

 

 

 

Drawers

Object #4192/1928: These drawers date to ca. 1850 and are handmade.  They are typical of the time in that the crotch is open but unique with the use of suspenders on the garment (drawstrings are more typical).  

 

Drawers

Chemise

 

 

Chemise 

Object #11,838/1984.82:  These undergarments were worn next to the skin to protect the outer garments from body oils and sweat.  The frills and decorative nature of this garment was most popular during the 1870s.  

Skirt Supporting Corset

 

Bonus: Skirt Supporting Corset

Object #4194/1928: Later in the Victorian era pieces of undergarments were combined into one piece, like this one.  This particular garment from ca. 1870 acted as a corset and a bustle to add lift to the skirt.  

 

The Neville would like to thank Leslie Bellais, curator of social history at the Wisconsin Historical Society for her entertaining presentation and her help in spotlighting the special history of these artifacts.

 

 

 

Leslie Bellais speaking at the Neville Public Museum

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.



Recent Posts


Tags


Archive