The Neville Public Museum

The Neville Blog

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

An Undelivered Love Letter

Thursday, February 11, 2016
With the opening of Life and Death at Fort Howard right around the corner, I thought what better time than Valentine’s Day to share a love letter from Fort Howard written in 1826.  Unfortunately, this letter isn’t all hugs and kisses.  Lt. Loring’s “dear Caroline” never received this letter that was given to John Lawe for delivery. 

Caroline, the 16 year old daughter of the fort’s Commanding Officer, Major William Whistler, was being courted not only by Lt. Loring, but also Lt. Bloodgood.   In the end Caroline never received the letter and married Lt. Bloodgood.  This water stained letter in our collection is all the remains of Lt. Loring and Caroline Whistler's short lived romance.    

Read the letter for yourself below! 

  Letter to Caroline Whistler from Lt. Loring (Martin Papers)

 

Fort Howard, Sunday morning
My dear Caroline,
        
A short time before I left this place I mentioned to you that Mr. Bloodgood had said to me that he was desirous of speaking to me on a particular subject & that I thought it was concerning you and myself this turned out to be the fact for on the day previous to our regiment’s starting, he in conversation with me stated his feelings toward you & wished to know from me positively our situation in regard to each other, at the same time disavowing any wish to supplant me in your esteem or affection- he was so frank in his avowal & remarks- that I was led to declare to him what I did then & must still believe to be the fact- that I considered myself bound and engaged to you by every tie that could possibly bind a man of honor to the woman he loved & that nothing but your father’s consent was in the way of our being united before I left the bay- he appeared satisfied and requested permission to mention the conversation to your parents and yourself, as he thought it necessary to account you and them for discontinuing his visits and attentions which from regard to me he intended doing.  I told him I had no objection to his telling you what I had said- but being fearful that your mother would be offended and probably make your time more disagreeable, I requested him not speak to your parents on the subject & continue his visits as usual.


Yesterday he walked out with me and told me that he had spoken to you on the subject a few days after I left- & that you stated to him the amount of what follows-  “That you did not consider that there was any engagement between us- that I had formerly been very attentive to you, but for some time past had neglected you very much- that your parents had objected to your marriage with me & for this reason & your having been advised by your friends not to connect yourself with me, you had concluded that we never should be married & in fact considered me as only a common acquaintance”  

The above, Caroline, is as near as I can recollect the amount of what he told me- but I shall make no comment upon it for I cannot unless I hear from yourself believe that you are so much altered- there must have been some mistake.  

I must see you if possible Caroline & immediately, therefore I wish you to make some arrangement to pass the evening from home& inform me what I shall meet you- say at the doctor’s, or you might walk in the garden with Rachel and your Cousin Abbot-

Nothing that may happen will ever change my feeling towards you & believe me my dear girl,
        Yours as truly as ever,

        H.H. Loring

Lisa Zimmerman, Curator

The Murder of Lt. Foster and His Frock Coat

Friday, February 05, 2016
In our core exhibition On the Edge of the Inland Sea, you can get lost in all the stories and artifacts between the mastodon and the 1908 Holsman Car.  But one thing that caught my eye, even before becoming the curator, was a blue military coat tucked in a corner by the “Fort Howard” section of the exhibit.   Behind the Fort Howard in "On the Edge of the Inland Sea"coat is a sketch of a man pointing a musket at another man and below is a small label with a story.   The story of the coat’s owner's fate is captivating.  But the stories untold in the exhibit are even more remarkable.    

The first part of the story is what you find in the exhibit on the second floor of the museum.  The young U.S. Army lieutenant who wore this coat 185 years ago died in it. Lt. Amos Foster was shot and killed by one of his own soldiers, Private Patrick Doyle.   In February 1832, Doyle was detained in the guardhouse for being drunk and disorderly.   Alcohol consumption was a real problem at Fort Howard, especially since part of the soldier’s rations included two gills of whiskey or rum (the equivalent of four shots today).   After a few days, on February 7, 1832, Doyle persuaded a guard to escort him to the Lt. Foster’s quarters to talk to him.  After harsh words and a scuffle Doyle stole the guard’s musket and killed Lt. Foster.  Doyle was immediately arrested.  He was tried and sentenced to death in July of 1832.  It is said Doyle was hanged outside the stockade wall of the fort for all to see. 
Painting of Fort Howard from 1899 by B. Ostertac (#2704/1757)

My big question when I started to look at the coat more closely was how do we know?  How do we know what happened and the supposed words exchanged between Lt. Foster and Doyle?  How do we know this was Lt. Foster’s coat?  After I started pulling at this thread I found there is far more to this story than has been told in that label on the 2nd floor.  After digging through historical documents, different stories of the incident were revealed.  Interesting tales of Doyle’s time while he was incarcerated and even a ghostly haunting of the officer’s quarters are mentioned in people’s memoirs.  


Beyond historical documents the coat itself can tell you another part of the story.  It reveals Lt. Foster’s role in society while he wore it (a lieutenant in the U.S. Army Infantry based on the coat construction and rank insignia).  It can also share insight to his early demise.  We can clearly see where the bullet entered and exited.  We can see loss of wool from blood staining.  It is also probable the surgeon at the time, Dr. Clement Finely, tried to get at the wounds quickly.   The bottom 7 buttons appear to have been cut off, probably because they were buttoned at the time of the murder. 


   
 
The coat Lt. Foster was wearing when he was murdered on February 7, 1832 (#1988.78.1)
 Entry point of the bullet that killed Lt. Foster

Now if you look at the photograph of the coat on exhibit in our main gallery on the second floor, you may notice it has all of its buttons.  That’s because the one on exhibit there is a replica.  Why would we not put the real thing out?  Because of all the coat has been through.  It has been through 19th century Wisconsin winters, a gunshot, blood stains, and several years in an attic in Texas.  That is why the exhibit team is beyond excited to pull the real thing out of storage for Life and Death at Fort Howard.  Not only will the coat be displayed for the first time at the Neville, but the team has created exciting new ways of explore the coat and Lt. Foster’s story. 

There is so much more we can and will share about this special artifact but nothing beats seeing the real thing.  Life and Death at Fort Howard is open through April 9, 2017!

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

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

Our Next Local History Exhibit Is...

Monday, August 24, 2015

If you’ve been following the museum on Instagram you may have noticed we’ve been hinting at our next local history exhibit over the last few weeks.  We’ve posted these images (right) asking our followers; first what these things are; and second what they mean to Green Bay.   So what do a statue of Zachary Taylor, an iron shutter guard, a ledger from 1831 and the lines painted in the parking lot at Leicht Park have in common? The answer is Fort Howard. The fort was commissioned in 1816 to protect the western frontier in Wisconsin.  It stood on the ruins of the previous French post, Fort La Baye, just across the street from the museum around where Titletown Brewery stands today.  

(Zachary Taylor served as commander- the shutter guard once held the shutters open at the hospital on site, the ledger is the Quartermasters Ledger- the lines represent where researchers believe the corner of the stockade once stood)

Life and Death at Fort Howard (opening in April 2016) will explore the real stories of the military fort on the western shore of the Fox River.  These stories include tales of murder, grand balls, a love triangle, and relations between the fort and the citizens building a community across the river.   

Over the next seven months we will be sharing special behind-the-scenes pieces via this blog and Instagram.  Some great artifacts have surfaced during our research and we want to share them with you!  Stay tuned! 

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

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