The Neville Public Museum

The Neville Blog

Etched in Time

Friday, July 11, 2014
Walking into the Neville’s extensive collection of art and artifacts is, like walking into any other museum’s collection, an exhilarating experience. Around every corner is something unexpected. Inside every drawer, sitting on every shelf, is a piece of history with a unique story to tell. It’s a bit like searching for treasure among treasures. In my new capacity at the Neville, it has been imperative that I familiarize myself with as much of the collection as possible. My involvement with exhibits such as Century of Discovery, A World at War, and From Agriculture to Tavern Culture, had provided opportunities to handle everything from landscape paintings to battlefield maps, from eye glasses to pint glasses, and just about everything in between. One day, though, I stumbled across something I hadn’t known was there.  
Behind an unmarked (and unremarkable) door, I discovered a small room brimming with the Neville’s collection of prints. Admittedly, I have a special affinity for prints. Personal preferences aside, a collection of prints such as the one the Neville possess is a valuable source of history and art. I immediately made a mental note that at the first opportunity I would delve into this collection and explore all it had to offer. Conveniently, Kevin (the Neville’s curator) and I had been discussing what would replace the Artistic Discovery exhibit that was installed in the same gallery as A Century of Discovery. Originally, A Century of Discovery had incorporated a number of paintings from our collection, but since then, two intervening exhibits had occupied that wall space. Now, the time had come to reconnect those walls more directly with the rest of the gallery, and I knew just the thing.             

The task of finding prints that related to A Century of Discovery provided a framework that narrowed and guided my exploration of the prints. My first criterion was that the print be dated to the 19th or early 20th centuries, as to coincide chronologically with the rest of the space. The popularity of prints during that time period meant that we had no shortage of images. The second criterion was that the image be in a condition that lent it to being handled and displayed. When prints arrive in the museum’s collection, they are not always in pristine condition. Corners may be torn, stains may mar the scene, or the image may have simply faded. Whatever their condition, all are equally preserved, however not all are considered ready for display. The final and most difficult task was choosing from among the remaining images a subject—or more likely, subjects—that would form an exhibit that was as cohesive as possible.             

Given that the print collection had been out of the public eye for a considerable period of time, one of my priorities was to showcase the breadth of subject matter that it contained. I also sought to find images that were relatable and spoke to as wide an audience as possible. While studying the prints, I began to mentally form small groups of three or four images that shared a theme. Broadly speaking, the images fell into themes such as labor and leisure, town and country, faith and morality, life near the water, and intimate moments. These themes cut across time and geography and help link our lives to those scenes contained in the prints.             

Where I could, I found instances where these themes overlapped and bled into one another, naturally linking one group to the next. For example, grouped with the images of faith and morality is a scene from Faust, where Mephistopheles appears to make his famous pact with the titular character. Across the doorway of the gallery, among the scenes of leisure (mostly drinking scenes, as a nod to the beer exhibit in the next room), is The Right Road, in which a young artist has his own decision to make and chooses to leave the life of debauchery behind him to pursue his art. Both characters are at a crossroads and must make life-altering choices. This is but one example of ideas and themes crossing between larger groups of images. Each viewer may find his or her own themes and are encouraged to do so as they study the prints on display.             

Finally, besides being aesthetically pleasing images, a print collection such as that on display provides a look at what was considered fine art and, more importantly, how people experienced that art. By and large, printmaking was a method concerned with generating reproductions. A brief look at the exhibit will show that rather than indicating the date of the original work of art—such as Raphael’s tapestry designs or Leighton’s wall painting—the dates of the published reproductions have been listed. Often, an engraver would be hired to copy a famous work of art. From that etching, a publishing company could produce numerous copies to be sold to eager art lovers. Printmaking had long been the primary method with which art and literature were disseminated. During the 19th century, advances in print technology meant that images of famous works became even more easily reproducible and affordable for wider audiences. Perhaps the most groundbreaking of these advancements was made possible by another 19th century invention—photography. By combining the new technology of photography with the centuries old process of engraving, a new means of generating reproductions was invented called photogravure, or photoengraving. This technology had the advantage of capturing details and gradations of tone that were not possible before, however it in essence removed the hand of the engraver.       
While the art of engraving is nowhere near as ubiquitous as it once was, viewing prints like those on display can serve as a reminder about how we view art. Technology, more often than not, mediates our experience of art. Today, we often take this for granted. Instead of a sheet of paper run through a press, we are more familiar with glowing screens through which almost any image can be accessed. The explosion digital technology has displaced the media of only a few decades ago, making things possible that could never have been imagined before. Technology and art have long been linked, and as one advances, the other expands and evolves. The images we encounter—no matter the generation—­and how we experience them are a critical factor in our perception of the world around us. However you may feel about art, old or new, I think it is worthwhile to ruminate for a few moments on your own experience of art and how technology may factor into that relationship.

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.    

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.

A Fair Trade-The Neville Public Museum's New Front Desk

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

A Fair Trade –The Neville’s New Front Desk

When I started working for the Neville Public Museum, one of my first concerns was the need to update the image of our front desk. I needed to address the realistic need of a better functioning front desk with the installation of our new Point of Service system. I began calling local colleges to see if they would be interested in taking on a project pro bono. Unfortunately do to the varying levels of skill and rotating students the professors I spoke to at that time were not able to commit.

New Front DeskI thought back to my past experience collaborating with inmates on a work release program. The group worked with me and with a local homeless shelter to complete some much needed maintenance to the building. I thought it would be worth it to reach out to the prison here in Green Bay. After some research I was given the name of Mike Schneider, Education Director of the Green Bay Correctional Institute. He oversees the wood tech instructor Korey Heimke (who works in the prison workshop). I met with both Mike and Korey and explained the project further in detail and asked if they would be interested. They were excited to help out the museum and wanted everyone to see that the prison and inmates can have a positive impact on the community.  

Korey and I worked together to develop a plan that included all of the Neville’s functional needs. Funds to buy the supplies were donated to the museum as part of the Welcome Center initiative from the Cloud Family Foundation. 

The new desk has been delivered and installed, and the front desk staff is excited to have the desk in its new location with the Packer Hall of Fame as its backdrop. Come check out the craftsmanship, the Guest Services staff, and the new and exciting exhibits. 

Jessica Day 
Guest Services Coordinator/Security Manager
Neville Public Museum 

Ashwaubenon School District Technology Project

Monday, May 12, 2014

From the Ice Age to the Age of Invention

Fourth Grade Students Become Virtual Tour Guides

The next time that you visit the Neville Public Museum, bring along your smart phone, tablet, or similar mobile device. With an internet connection and QR code scanner, a 4th grade student from Ashwaubenon School District will be your virtual tour guide. Just look for the QR codes in On the Edge fo the Inland Sea!

What is a QR code?

This symbol is a QR code. It is used to quickly connect smart phones, tablets, and similar mobile devices to online digital content. Scanning these codes in On the Edge of the Inland Sea will direct your mobile device to display a video of your virtual tour guide in the exhibit space.

Who are these tour guides?

One student from each 4th grade classroom in the Ashwaubenon School District was selected to research and create a video interpreting the history of Northeastern Wisconsin. There are 10 videos to discover in On the Edge of the Inland Sea, covering a range of topics from glaciers to electrical inventions.

According to Jamie Averbeck, Ashwaubenon School District’s Technology Integration Specialist who led the project, “Ashwaubenon schools are excited to partner with the Neville Public Museum. It gives our students a real-world experience in creating meaningful digital content for an authentic audience.”

Where can I download a scanner?

QR code scanning applications are available for download in the Google PlayiTunes, and Amazon markets. The museum offers free wireless internet access to guests with non-cellular connected devices.

Visit the Neville Public Museum of Brown County Today!

This exhibit addition entitled, From the Ice Age to the Age of Invention:  The Shaping of Brown County, will open Tuesday, May 13, 2014. 

Be sure to see it while you can and support Ashwaubenon Public School's 4th grade students!

Letter from the Interim Director

Monday, April 28, 2014

Neville Interim Director, Beth LemkeAs I look out my office window I cannot help but notice how the open water on the river reflects joyous movement and progression of a new era for the Neville Public Museum, I am appreciative for those of you whom I have met in person. For those of you I have yet to meet I very much look forward to doing so.

Since January staff have created three major exhibitions that are sure to inspire you. A Century of Discovery highlights museum displays of the past, Touchdown! Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame, Inc. at the Neville Public Museum includes never-before-seen artifacts and photographs as well as rare video footage from the 1930s to the present, and A World at War: 100th Commemoration of the Start of WWI.

We are busy getting ready for the June 14th opening of Agriculture to Tavern Culture: The Art, History and Science of Beer. When partnered with Touchdown! this will be certainly a summer you will not want to miss at your Neville.

For one hundred years, the community has helped us preserve the legacy of the past and with continued support, we look forward to preserving the legacy of the next one hundred years and beyond.

Sincerely, Beth

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