Jan. 11, 2021 2:47 pm
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 on display in the Generations Gallery. Check it out for yourself!
A Fort Howard Christmas
Dec. 21, 2020 4:02 pm
200 years ago a cheerful holiday feast was held just across the street from the museum near Leicht Park at Fort Howard.
Once a fort officer, Col. McNeil (later commander of Fort Howard 1824-1825), found out how important it was to the French residents of the area to celebrate Christmas, he planned an elaborate party. The officers invited the French, the Americans, and native people living in the area. The 4' o'clock dinner is said to have fed a hundred people. The evening included a feast of fish, bear, and porcupine along with a dance that lasted late into the night.
|An Invitation addressed to Mrs. Lawe for a ball at Fort Howard in 1820.|
A local land surveyor who attended the fort's Christmas dinner/dance in 1823 describes the evening...
The hall was well filled... men and women, were attired in all the grades of dress, from the highest partisan down to the buck-skin coats, pants, petticoat, and moccasins of the aboriginals. Yet as no one of the elite thought himself over-dressed, so, on the other hand, none of the citizens, French or half-breeds reproached themselves with least want or etiquette, or of intended disrespect of their host, on account of costume.
- Albert G. Ellis
The fort hosted several gatherings like this one during its existence. Maj. Zachary Taylor (Commander of Fort Howard 1816-1818 and later President of the United States) had been known for hosting social events but the truth is several officers enjoyed throwing parties, including Col. McNeil. These gatherings led to some interesting stories including one murder and dangerous trip across the river during a violent storm. You can experience these stories in the Generations Gallery.
Lisa Kain, Curator -
Attack on Pearl Harbor and a Wedding Dress
Dec. 7, 2020 7:53 am
"December 7, 1941 A Date Which Will Live in Infamy" - President Franklin D. Roosevelt
The United States entered World War II after a devastating attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese on December 7, 1941.
The war affected everyday life in the United States, this wedding dress is one example. Katherin Pierick Williams wore this dress when she married U.S. Navy photographer Alan North Williams just three weeks after the attack. Williams was at Pearl Harbor during the attacks. He survived and even took photographs of the events.The dress is part of the Neville Public Museum's collection and the photographs are cared for by the Wisconsin Historical Society. You can see the two together and more stories like this in "Guns and Gowns" open through February 2021.
This war changed the entire structure of the fashion industry. Paris fell to the Germans in 1940 and no longer inspired American and British designers. Britain, feeling the harsh effects of the war, struggled to design new fashions. But Hollywood continued to inspire American designers.
The NY Dress Institute designed this dress. The Institute was formed before the U.S. entered the war in 1941 to promote New York as the fashion center of the world, especially since Paris was under control of the Germans at this time. -
Keeping the Holidays Alive
Dec. 3, 2020 4:48 pm
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. One thing you may have noticed in recent years is that the museum decided not to have our dolls move. After extensive review of the dolls' conditions the decision as made to not plug them in for a variety of reasons.
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 in 2016, 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.|
|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.|
Since 2017, we have decreased the stress put on our dolls to help ensure that we can display them well into the future.
Research Technician -
Green Bay's First African American Football Player
Nov. 30, 2020 9:36 am
Bob (Robert) Mann became the first African American player to play in a regular season game for the Green Bay Packers in 1950. Mid-season in 1950, a line coach for the Packers called Mann and asked him to play. He said no. They called again. This time they were successful in recruiting the receiver to Green Bay. Mann arrived on Saturday and played on Sunday.
But before that, Mann was one of the first African American players signed to the Detroit Lions. He played with them for two seasons.
In 1949, during Bob Mann's second season with the Detroit Lions, the team played the Philadelphia Eagles in New Orleans. Southern tradition banned African American players from playing at the stadium. Mann and his teammates Mel Groomes and Wallace Triplett were not allowed to play.
After discussion with the league, the Lions' head coach Bo McMillin was given the option to break the color barrier. He refused. Instead of playing alongside their teammates, Mann, Groomes, and Triplett listened to the game at one of Mann's relative's homes in New Orleans. "Bo told us he didn't think he should be the one to break it. I thought to myself, 'fine that's his decision.' Bo could have ended all that. He was supposed to be Mr. Great Liberal. But he didn't do it. He just passed it by. He could have been a big guy, a big fellow, but he didn't do it. I've never forgotten that...He had a chance to be a hero, step up to the plate, but he didn't do it."
In 2002, Mann served as honorary captain at the Lions-Packers games. A fitting game considering he broke the color barrier for both teams.
Native American Heritage Month: Purcell Powless
Nov. 23, 2020 3:05 pm
Purcell Powless (1925-2010) served as Oneida Tribal Chairman during one of the most progressive eras for the tribe. He ran for the position and won in 1967 because he saw an opportunity to make a difference in his community. He served in this position until 1990 at which time he retired. During his tenure, he completed several projects that have had a lasting impact, including work on the Oneida Casino, the Radisson Hotel, the Irene Metoxen Moore Community Center, and the Head Start and Tribal School System. The work Purcell and his counterparts accomplished is astounding. The era of change fostered a higher quality of life for the community.
While Purcell received a lot of praise for his work on the council, he never took all the credit. He is remembered as a very humble man. He often credited the women around him for the wonderful things that were happening in the community and recognized the women around him for their hard work and dedication. Purcell believed that women were the foundation of getting things done. -
Native American Heritage Month: Rev. Cornelius Hill
Nov. 17, 2020 10:53 am
Rev. Cornelius Hill (1834-1907) is one of the most prominent figures in the Oneida Nation's history. He is known not only for the titles he held (Chief and Reverend), but for the work he did in his community. Cornelius became Chief of the Bear Clan when he was only 13 years old but did not join the council until he was 18. Chief Hill was the last bloodline Chief of the Oneida.
In the early 1800s, the Oneida were moved to this part of the country from New York. After the Civil War, talks of movement began again with the U.S. government wanting the Oneida to move farther west past the Mississippi River. Cornelius, as a leader and council member, spoke out against this in 1864. "Progress is our motto, you who labor to deprive us of the small spot of God's footstool will labor in vain. We will not sign your treaty; no amount of money can tempt us to sell our people..." - Rev. Cornelius Hill
In 1895, he became the first Oneida Deacon in the Episcopal Church. He also studied to become ordained and finally met that goal in 1903 at the age of 69. Cornelius is most often remembered as a strong-willed and reserved leader who was not afraid to fight for what he felt was best for the Oneida people.
Keen Bloomfield, Julia. The Oneidas, 1909.
Herbert S. Lewis, ed. Oneida Lives: Long-Lost Voices of the Wisconsin Oneidas, 2005.
Loew, Patty. Indian Nations of Wisconsin: Histories of Endurance and Renewal, 2001. -
Women's History Month: Irene (Metoxen) Moore
Nov. 9, 2020 11:53 am
Irene (Metoxen) Moore (1903-1976) was not a typical farmer's wife. She worked tirelessly on the farm, as a mother, and for her community. In 1963, Irene ran for chairman on the Oneida Tribal Council and won. She was Oneida's first woman elected to Tribal Chairperson.
Irene was focused on creating a better quality of life on the reservation. She did this by working on several projects including the Oneida Housing Authority, Oneida Community Area 4-H Club, and by encouraging people to pursue college degrees. Housing, education, and tribal government all improved after she was elected. Irene is remembered as a patient, respectful, and hard-working woman who had a lasting effect on the Oneida Nation.
One of her many projects was to create the Oneida Housing Authority. When she took public office, housing on the reservation was in a poor state of affairs. Many homes in the 1960s did not have indoor plumbing or electricity. The quality of life for her neighbors was unacceptable. Irene spent an enormous amount of effort to start the Authority to fix the situation. By creating the Oneida Housing Authority, she opened the door for Federal Grant Funds that improved the lives of the people living on the reservation.
Native American Heritage Month: Dr. Rosa Minoka Hill
Nov. 3, 2020 1:59 pm
Sometimes people have a calling to do something great, something that leaves a legacy. Dr. Rosa Minoka Hill had that inner voice telling her to serve and so she did. Her work and determination to help others affected both those treated by her and by all of those around her. Dr. Hill's renowned service and intriguing story gave her not only a special spot in Green Bay history, but also a rightful place among some of the most influential people of Brown County.
Dr. Rosa Minoka Hill was born in New Jersey in 1876 to a Mohawk mother and a Quaker physician. She earned her M.D. at the Women's Medical College of Pennsylvania while keeping her ties to her Native American roots. She eventually established her own medical practice in Philadelphia. She provided care at the Lincoln Institute where she met Anna Hill, an Oneida girl from Brown County. Then she met Anna's brother, Charles, a student at the Carlisle Indian School. They married in 1905 and the newly wed Charles and Dr. Rosa Minoka Hill moved back to Charles' home in Oneida.
At first Dr. Rosa Minoka Hill played the expected role of farmhouse wife. She gave up her practice until she realized the medical needs of the people in her new home. She knew providing medical care was something worthwhile and worked with native medicine men. Dr. Hill was able to blend her medical practices with the tribal practices. This way, rich cultural aspects were combined with innovative technology to provide the best care possible. She had a "kitchen clinic" for many years. It was open from 7am to 10pm every day and all were welcome. Dr. Hill became known by the name Yo-da-gent, meaning "she who serves" in Oneida. * Her understanding of culture, tolerance, and willingness to serve all who needed is something we can all admire.
Charles died in 1916 leaving Rosa with six children and a mortgaged farm. These circumstances along with the Great Depression led Rosa to pursue a medical license in Wisconsin even though she already had one in Pennsylvania. She had to borrow the $100 to take the Wisconsin Medical License Exam. She passed the exam at the age of 58 and opened a practice in town. She practiced and served there for 12 years.
Rosa Hill and Sue Cook stand by Rosa's grandmother's head stone. The two plan to enter nurses' training after graduation in June, they will follow in the footsteps of Rosa's grandmother, Dr. Rosa Minoka Hill.
It is obvious that Dr. Hill had a calling to help others. She was determined to not let the expectations society had of women during that time to distract her from what she wanted to do. She was able to have a family and serve all those who needed help. She eventually had to provide for her family and found a way to do so while providing necessary medical care to others. Her passion, strength, and respect for people of all backgrounds are things we can admire today.
St. Norbert College
* Dreamers and Doers : A Project of Green Bay Area Branch American Association of University Women, 1994
* Dr. Rosa Minoka Hill Green Bay Public School, https://minokahill.gbaps.org/ -
Green Bay's Monster Maker
Oct. 20, 2020 9:19 am
Over the course of my time with The Neville Public Museum I encountered many interesting characters of Brown County's past. However, none fascinate me more than the Dale Kuipers (1947-1996). From comic book creatures, movie monsters, and flowering flora, Dale created sublime works of art and Hollywood special effects.
I had the privilege of becoming familiar with Kuipers resulting from my work on a temporary Neville exhibition, Dale Kuipers: Green Bay's Monster Maker. Unfortunately, learning about Dale was not the easiest task. Due to union conflicts most of his Hollywood film work goes uncredited. Further records are sparse and scattered. Luckily, the Neville provided me a wealth of resources for research. Therefore, I find it befitting to share some of what I found.
Throughout his youth Kuipers constructed dinosaur models in his parent's basement. Using these models he filmed Infant Earth, a creation story documenting the formation of Earth's life. Another project of his, Two Faces of Venus, gained Kuipers national attention through Associated Press. Into the 1970s, Dale worked for several nearby haunted houses, most notably Mackinac Island's The Haunted Theatre.
Opportunity presented itself to Kuipers in 1979 when Universal Studios began filming Somewhere in Time on Mackinac Island. After showing the special effects department his haunted house monsters, Kuipers acquired letters of recommendation to supplement his portfolio. With such recommendations, Dale launched his Hollywood career. Within weeks, Roy Arbogast of Jaws fame reached out to Kuipers and brought him to Hollywood as the Special Effects Sculptor on Caveman. The film allowed Dale to implement his dinosaur expertise and to establish his reputation. Through Rick Baker, Kuipers landed a second job working with Rob Bottin on The Howling. Together the two set out to reimagine the portrayal of werewolves in film. Unfortunately, petroleum distillate poisoning ailed Kuipers and forced him back to Green Bay for recovery.
Months after his return, John Carpenter signed on Kuipers to design a monster for The Thing. In contrast to the movie's final monster, Kuipers believed his was more biologically sound and its origins more fleshed out. Work stopped after Kuipers sustained major injuries and Bottin replaced him.
Back in Green Bay, Kuipers remained active amongst the local art and film communities. Working from his Skylight Gallery on Washington St., he collaborated with theater groups, films, haunted houses, and community events. Despite his fantastical monsters, pastel landscapes were Dale's true love. He remarked that monsters paid the bills so he could pursue more serene scenes. Battling spats of poor health, Dale passed away in July, 1996.
To describe Dale as "fascinating" is an understatement. Through triumphs and trials, Dale continued his passion for art and special effects until death. His imagination opened new worlds and introduced wonderful creatures to his audiences. One must experience his work firsthand to catch a glimpse of his brilliance.
Intern, University of Wisconsin -
Civil War Era Dress Returns After Conservation
Oct. 13, 2020 12:14 pm
Last year the museum debuted its exhibit "Guns and Gowns: 200 Years of Fashion and Firearms." Our women's fashion collection is expansive dating back to the late 1700s (you can see these dresses in the exhibit too). While we have a lot of pieces representing fashion in the late 19th century and 20th century, pieces representing the rest of the 19th century are selective. We do not have many dresses in this mid-19th century style with the hoop skirt. When we came across the dress with the signature silhouette, plaid silk, and puffy sleeve design, we knew we wanted to find a way to exhibit it. The dress was donated by Josephine Buchanan Lenfestey in the 1990s. Because of its condition it has not been
exhibited since its donation. The decision was made to send this dress off for conservation to the Midwest Arts Conservation Center in Minneapolis. Due to the amount of work the dress needed we were aware the dress wouldn't be ready for the opening of the exhibit but were excited to add it to the exhibit when it was finished.
Why Conserve the Dress?
This dress is a great representation of not only fashion, but historically what was happening at the moment in time the dress was made. At this time the skirt's size increased and was worn over voluminous petticoats, crinolines, or hoops. Silhouettes became larger thanks to the influence of Victorian Era fashions from Europe. Lace became more popular and higher in quality thanks to machines invented during the Industrial Revolution. Plaid was also a sign of wealth in Victorian Era fashion.
The Civil War affected every part of life. Before the war, the fashion industry was thriving. Queen Victoria was influencing style. The silk trade opened with Japan in 1853. The Industrial Revolution was making fabric production more efficient. Southern slave-produced cotton was sent to the North for processing in textile mills. But during the war, the fashion industry halted. The United States dedicated every piece of fabric to the war. Based on its design it is believed this dress was made just before the Civil War broke out.
The Dress Returns in Time to be Exhibited in "Guns and Gowns"
Like everything in 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic effected our plans. The conservation of the dress was completed earlier this year. The plan was to pick up the dress this past spring and have the dress installed in the exhibit for an exciting summer exhibit line-up. Instead museum staff was forced to wait until September to make the trip to Minneapolis to pick up the dress. When all is said and done, we're happy to have the garment back in our hands, and it is now ready to make its debut in "Guns and Gowns." It will stay there until the end of the exhibit through February 2021.
5 Things You May Not Know about Stompy the Mastodon
Oct. 6, 2020 10:45 am
1. He's not a Woolly Mammoth
Stompy is a mastodon, but what's the difference? For starters mastodon tusks were less curved than a mammoth's. Mastodon teeth were different from a mammoth's as well. Why was that? Because Mastodons lived in swampy areas and chewed on branches and shrubs. Mammoths grazed on grasses in open plains. You can see the difference between the two species teeth just behind Stompy in the exhibit!
2. His fur is made of cow tails
Stompy is covered in 1,500 cow tails! The cow tails were washed, bleached, and colored before being adhered to his body. This was done by the artist to achieve the look of shaggy curly hair which would've helped him stay warm at the end of the last Ice Age.
Photo taken in 1983 right after the diorama was installed for the new museum
3. He sheds... so please don't pet the mastodon
Stompy is now 37 years old! Over the years he lost some of his hair but who wouldn't after entertaining the masses for three decades? During the recent renovation museum diorama specialists came in to give Stompy an little upgrade. He was cleaned and even got some new hair additions using the same technique that was used in 1983.
We'd love for Stompy to stick around another 30 years so please don't pet him. He's a museum favorite and we want to keep him looking shaggy for a long time. The more exposure he gets to human touch the more he will deteriorate just like any other artifact in the museum.
4. He was made in Indiana
When the museum started to plan for their brand new building in 1982, they also began to plan for a new large-scale exhibit about the history of Northeastern Wisconsin. Part of that story was to be told with a diorama of the Late Pleistocene Period by diorama artists Pat and Theresa Gulley of Williamsport, IN. The artists modeled Stompy from an elephant at the Indianapolis Zoo. Stompy was the first piece to be installed in the On the Edge of the Inland Sea.
Photo of curator Dennis Jacobs preparing Stompy for the opening of "On the Edge of the Inland Sea"
5. He's only 3/4th the size he should be
Due to size constraints in the exhibit the entire diorama is made at 3/4th size, including the Paleo-Indian hunters. Imagine Stompy and the hunters just a little bigger next time you go through the Ice Cave!
Bonus Fact: Did you know the crouching hunter wasn't originally behind Stompy? He was first installed on the ledge directly across from Stompy.
Next time you venture through our Ice Cave we hope you'll take a second to say hi to Stompy, maybe snap a picture with him and consider how he came to be here at the Neville! -
Mar. 13, 2020 9:00 am
Hello, world! -