The Neville Public Museum

The Neville Blog

Making Headway with Headgear in WWI

Monday, August 28, 2017

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the United States entering the Great War. The U.S. officially entered this “European War,” on April 6th, 1917 when the military joined forces with Great Britain, France, and Russia to fight against the central powers of Germany and Austria-Hungary. A major European war had not been fought since the Napoleonic War. Most of the warring countries thought WWI was going to be a swift war, and that they would be back home by Christmas. That did not happen.  Over 11 million lives were lost and it became the most destructive war that Western nations had seen.

Lack of sufficient helmets caused several deaths throughout the war.  The evolution of head wear during WWI shows how unprepared Europe was for this conflict. The museum’s collection reflects the helmet choices made by different nations at different times. 

The Brodie Helmet

The Brodie Helmet was developed and produced by Great Britain.  At the start of the war, the belligerent nations were not prepared for the destruction modern weaponry would unleash on their soldiers. At the outbreak of WWI, soldiers were commonly supplied with cloth or leather caps which didn’t offer any protection. The development of adequate protective helmets did not begin until casualties from grenades and artillery shrapnel increased.  

Instead of having separate stamped pieces welded or riveted together, the Brodie helmet was made out of a singular piece of steel.   The Brodie helmet was used by all members of the British Empire and other countries, including Australia, South Africa, and Canada.  The United States also adopted this design in 1917 when they entered the war.

The Adrian Helmet

The French were the first to attempt to make adequate headgear for their soldiers. The French Soldiers were sent into battle with a dark blue jacket, red pantaloons, and a wool cap known as a kepi.  After suffering numerous casualties, the French realized that the uniform needed to be changed. The dark blue jacket and red pantaloons gave way to a horizon blue uniform, and the soft cap transformed into a steel helmet called the Adrian helmet. The French Adrian Helmet was made of several different stamped pieces that were either welded or riveted together. This helmet style was so popular that other allied countries, including Russia, Italy, and Belgium adopted it. 

The Pickelhaube Helmet

At the onset of the war, the Germans used the iconic spiked helmet called the Pickelhaube Helmet. It was made of black, pressed leather though a leather shortage in Germany eventually led the Germans to construct these helmets out of pressed felt or paper maché. These materials did not afford the wearer much protection. The helmet was designed to be ceremonious and to romanticize the nature of the military and war. In 1916, the Germans replaced the Pickelhaube with the Stahlhelm. The Stahlhelm, which is infamous for its use by the Nazis in WWII, was first introduced in February 1916 at the battle of Verdun. By the end of the year, the German western front was issued the Stahlhelm, but the German eastern front would not be issued the helmet until mid-1917.

Ben Dudzik
University of Washington

Out of the Shadows and Into the Community Spotlight, Estamos Aquí – We Are Here

Thursday, July 13, 2017

How do you create a museum exhibit about a diverse segment of our community that results in an authentic, engaging and sincere visitor experience? It was clear from the outset that these answers needed to come from the community in which we were highlighting in Estamos Aqui, Latino residents living in Northeast Wisconsin.

Concept to Creation

Conversations between the museum and local Latino community stakeholders including Casa ALBA Melanie began in the summer of 2014, following a small installation at the Neville called Out of the Shadows. Formal meetings to develop a large-scale exhibit began in July of 2015, with an exhibit committee of twelve community members and museum staff.  Estamos Aqui: Celebrating Latino Identity in Northeast Wisconsin opened in May of 2017 and took two years of planning to define the themes and content of the 3,500 square foot exhibit.   
The result is an interactive bilingual exhibit that celebrates the diverse customs, music, and food brought here by families from across Latin America. Thirty people were interviewed about work, language, education, their cultural traditions, what traditional foods they remember from of their countries, and challenges of adapting to a new life in Northeast Wisconsin. You can watch these video segments appear in the exhibit.
The exhibit begins in a migrant worker cabin, similar to those that dotted Northeast Wisconsin between the 1930s and 1980s.  One of the first families to live in a cabin like this was the Saldaña family. Antonio Saldaña, who was part of the exhibit committee, provided invaluable insights into what life was like as a migrant worker child living in a 14 foot by 24 foot shack with thirteen siblings. That cabin was part of a labor camp created for seasonal workers hired by the Bond Pickle Company in Oconto County, Wisconsin.  
The rest of the exhibit is a colorful space defined by six themes: Work, Language, Education, Cultural Traditions, Food, and Contemporary Latino Identity.  An important feature of the exhibit is a cultural plaza, complete with a central fountain. It is a space where the art and craft traditions brought here from across Latin America are displayed. 

Today, more than 35,000 people of Latino identity live in Northeast Wisconsin.  It is estimated that by the year 2060, one in four people living in Brown County will be of Latino heritage.  Therefore, this exhibit could not have come at a more critical time, to be a gathering place to start the conversation about recognizing this cultural change and how to embrace it. The question each resident of Northeast Wisconsin will eventually need to answer is how will they react to this change? Why? Because that change is already here, Estamos Aquí!

Special Thanks 

Thank you to the Estamos Aqui Exhibit Committee:  David and Eileen Littig, Antonio Saldaña, Nicholas Saldaña, Marcelo Cruz, Stephen Perkins, Valerie Corrigan, Pilar Campos and Sr. Melanie Maczka.  Also, a special thanks to the thirty interviewees for telling their personal stories, as well as to the Spanish Department at UW-Green Bay for translating the audio interviews into Spanish and English. Thanks also to all those who loaned objects and artifacts for the exhibit. Additionally, a big thank you to the donors and sponsoring organizations for funding this important exhibit.  

Kevin Cullen
Deputy Director

Fort Howard: A Building Block for America

Monday, June 19, 2017
With Independence Day right around the corner there is no better time than now to reflect on how our very own Green Bay became American Fort Howard prior its to dismantling ca. 1867. The patriotism shared today for the ideal of being American wasn’t always held by the people of this area. This area was settled by both the French and English well before Americans laid down control of this portion of Wisconsin through Fort Howard. Fort Howard, which was right across street from the Neville Public Museum, was the key to the Americanization of this area during the early 19th century.

The land surrounding the Fox River was highly desired for it controlled trade through the waterway. Three hundred years ago in 1717 the French were first stationed in Green Bay. The French fort, Fort La Baye, like Fort Howard was built on the opening of the Fox River. The French fort stood until 1760; for 43 years the French were a major influence in North Eastern Wisconsin. We can see the impact of the French in Wisconsin, especially in our area, when we think of Charles De Langlade, also known as the “Father” of Wisconsin, who was a French military officer. De Langlade and his family were one of the first inhabitants of Green Bay.

After the French had abandoned their location during the Fox Wars the English relocated to where Fort La Baye had stood and built Fort Edward Augustus. The English also saw the potential of the Fox River. Fort Edward Augustus was abandoned in 1763 during the Pontiac Uprising, yet the inhabitants of Green Bay remained dedicated to the English.

After the War of 1812 the British no longer had claim to the area and plans were being made for American forces to be moved into the area to control the Fox River. This wasn't the only reason the 3rd Regiment of the United States Army Infantry was placed in Green Bay. The larger goal of placing American soldiers here was to "Americanize" this newly attained land and to acclimate the people of the area with a new spirit of patriotism.

Fort Howard was vital for America's grasp on the Northwestern frontier. Our very own Fox River was hugely important in America's expansion to the West. Through the control of trade on the waterway that was so sought after by the other nations America now had another key to prosperity. Looking back I never fully realized how truly important our own little area was to the growth of this part of the nation. Over the last couple weeks I have been able to explore artifacts from the Neville's collection that were used in the Life and Death at Fort Howard exhibit which ran from April 2016 through April 2017. From maps to muskets the story that is told through the artifacts of Fort Howard speak volumes on how influential the fort was in creating the place we call home today.

If you want to learn more about America's beginnings and the men who forged the way don't miss our upcoming event America! on June 21st. You can get more information and tickets here.

Madeline Palecek

Alice in Dairyland’s Return to Brown County

Monday, May 08, 2017
Alice in Dairyland has been an agriculture icon in Wisconsin since 1948. No longer a pageant queen, Alice reflects the booming industry that provides over $88 billion to our state’s economy. Alice in Dairyland is a salaried year long position responsible for the marketing and promotion of the agriculture industries across the state. While the name of the position has stayed the same, the duties and selection process have changed over the last 70 years.
The Alice in Dairyland program got its start in 1948 at the Wisconsin Centennial Celebration at the State Fair. The idea was to find a young woman to be the face of Wisconsin Dairy that would travel across the country promoting the big event at the fair. Alice in Dairyland even had a special building on the fairgrounds with exhibits and a 10 foot tall robotic Alice. This technological marvel could sit, stand, and even talk to visitors. The Alice robot was used at the State Fair for the next decade.

Margaret McGuire of Highland, Wisconsin, at age 18, was the first to hold the title of Alice. She traveled in Wisconsin and across the country promoting the Wisconsin State Fair and was even given her own plane for her travels. When Margaret was chosen, the qualifications were simply, “beauty and health, general personality, and ability to present herself and her message before large groups.” In the 1950s the process became more elaborate. Alice princesses were named in June and the next two months were spent interviewing for the position. The final Alice was named in August.

Today, Alice is much less a beauty queen but rather a public relations professional. In the first round of the selection process, applications are evaluated based on resumes, personal interviews, and communications ability. If she passes this round, she still has to impress a selection panel during the three-day finals. This includes creating a presentation based on one of six agribusiness tours taken during those three days. Throughout the finals she is evaluated on public speaking skills, discussion panel participation, an interview with the selection panel and TV and radio interview skills. All of this will take place this week in Brown County.

This year marks the fourth time Brown County will host the Alice in Dairyland Finals. Brown County has previously hosted the Finals in 1958 (St. Norbert College), 1967 (Brown County Veterans Memorial Arena) and 1978 (Carlton Inn West). This year will be one of the largest finals events ever held at legendary Lambeau Field. Not only is the venue big, there is a record number of previous Alices attending the event. Thirty three of sixty nine Alices are expected to attend. Among them is Margaret (McGuire) Blott, the first Alice. They will all be visiting the Neville Public Museum before the final event at Lambeau on May 13th to see the exhibit Alice in Dairyland: Wisconsin’s Agricultural Ambassador. This special exhibit explores the impact Wisconsin agriculture has on our everyday lives, along with Alice, in a one of a kind hands-on experience.

Alice in Dairyland has been an important part of the Wisconsin Agriculture community over the past 70 years. The Alice in Dairyland exhibit and the 70th Alice Finals hosted by Brown County are a celebration of the rich history and exciting future of Alice in Dairyland.

Lisa Kain

152nd Anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's Burial

Wednesday, April 26, 2017
Abraham Lincoln was laid to rest 152 years ago on April 28, 1865 in Springfield, Illinois. Following his assassination two weeks earlier, his body was laid in state in the nation's Capital and was transported to Springfield by train. Lincoln spent time in Wisconsin during his brief military career, serving in the Black Hawk War, and last visited the state in 1859 as a potential presidential candidate.

The Neville Public Museum is proud to hold in our collection a signed photograph of the president and his son Tad, taken in 1864. Lincoln rarely signed photographs, but two signed copies were gifted to the president's secretary Gustav Matile about one year before Lincoln's death. After Lincoln was assassinated, Matile worked as a lawyer in Minnesota and then served as U.S. Court Commissioner for Wisconsin's Eastern District in Green Bay. When Matile died in 1908, he gave the photograph to the Kellogg Public Library where it was kept until sold to the Green Bay & De Pere Antiquarian Society in 2007.

The image was used on popular commemorative cards and prints after Lincoln's death, but the Neville Public Museum holds one of the only two known original prints, and the president's signature makes this photograph exceptionally uncommon.

We Have a New Little Free Library!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

In 1915 the Green Bay Art Club (now the Green Bay Art Colony) was established by nine local women who launched their first exhibit featuring rare and historically significant objects in the basement of the former Kellogg Library.  This exhibit was the birth of the Neville Public Museum of Brown County as we know it today.

On April 23, 1983 the Neville Public Museum of Brown County opened the doors of our current building to the public.   In celebration of our building’s anniversary and of our continued partnership with the Green Bay Art Colony we installed a new Little Free Library on our grounds.  Our Little Free Library is modeled after the building that started it all, the former Kellogg Library, and honors the Green Bay Art Colony.  

A Little Free Library is a “take a book, return a book” free book exchange.  Little Free Library book exchanges have a unique, personal touch. There is an understanding that real people are sharing their favorite books with their community; Little Libraries have been called “mini-town squares.”  We're so excited to bridge communities and connect generations through our new Little Free Library! 

Who is Helen Ferslev?

Wednesday, March 29, 2017
Helen FerslevHelen was a devoted educator, talented artist, and a local history advocate in Green Bay. Helen is particularly important to the Neville because without her we may not be where we are today. March 30th would be Helen Ferslev’s 100th birthday. In honor of all she’s done for our community and the museum we want to share just a few of her accomplishments.

Helen is one of several special women that lived here in Brown County that valued the arts and the preservation of history. Helen’s dedication to preservation of history is most evident in her hard work to make our current museum building a reality. Helen served as President of the Neville Public Museum Corporation. Before 1983 the museum sat in a smaller and less conducive building on Jefferson St. Helen fought for a new facility that was eventually supported by the county, the city, and private donors, a true community project. Here is Helen breaking ground with the County Executive, the Mayor, and the Museum Director.

Neville Foundation president, Helen Ferslev, Mayor Samuel Halloin, Brown County Executive Donald Holloway and Museum Director, James Quinn, break ground in 1981 for a new museum.
We have several artifacts in our collection that reflect Helen’s continued dedication to education, local history and the arts. The collection includes a diary, scrapbooks and letters from her time in London in 1948 and 1949 when she participated in the Teacher Exchange Program. We also care for awards given to her for her many accomplishments in education and here at the museum. Helen’s focus on education and interest in history led her to co-author the text book “It Happened Here” in 1949. We have a copy of it in our research library. Later in life she continued her education by taking different art courses. Works of art she created are also held in our collection.

The museum is thankful for people like Helen that continually support our mission and fight to preserve local history and engage the arts.

Lisa Kain

Guns & Gowns

Wednesday, February 08, 2017
Over the course of the last several months we have been preparing artifacts and research for our one-night-only "Guns and Gowns" event.   

Fortunately, a large portion of the research on the guns was already done.  Considering the generosity of our donors, the importance that firearms played in the establishment of Green Bay, and the significance of Fort Howard, the museum has hosted a number of exhibits featuring guns and other weaponry.  Dresses however, not as much.  Although the fashion collection is quite large and the donors just as generous, there hasn’t yet been an occasion to “dress up”… until now.

One of the biggest challenges we faced when choosing artifacts for this event was something that wasn’t apparent from the start.  The initial idea for the event was to use time periods where we knew we would have a good selection of firearms, and then find gowns to match.  However, as we searched through collections it became clear that the periods for which we had some of the most interesting guns, typically wartime, were also times when, for many reasons, fashion was not a priority.  

1847 Walker Colt Revolver (#2002.10.238)
The Civil War and WWII periods were the most challenging.  The Neville certainly has dresses from both era’s but few of them, if any, reach “gown” status.  Most of them are either practical, every-day type fashions, or made specifically for a purpose or job.  It was more important for most people during wartime to keep their families safe and fed, than to worry about frills and bows.

For example, the beautiful gun-metal grey wedding dress we will be displaying alongside our Civil War firearms was originally worn in 1853 by Louisa Gardner.  At this time it still would have been relatively uncommon for women to wear white on their wedding day. Often they would either wear their best dress to the ceremony, or have a dress made which they could also use on other occasions.  This wedding dress was worn again a decade later by Gardner’s stepdaughter, Mrs. O.C. Ely but we don’t know for certain why.  Considering how beautiful this gown is even over 160 years later, it may have been reused because it was such a lovely dress, or because it was a family heirloom.  It may also be possible that it was practical choice in uncertain times, or some combination of reasons.

 1853 Wedding Dress (#4595/2216)
In the case of the Civil War and WWII dresses, as often happens when doing historical research, the lack of evidence or artifacts is just as interesting as having a lot to choose from. 

Justine Kaempfer

In Case You Didn’t CAT-ch It, We Had a STELLAR 2016!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016
Our exhibit team was extremely busy in 2016 installing 15 different exhibits and putting on a variety of fun packed programs.  We couldn’t possibly re-cap all of them so here are five of our favorite exhibits and programs from 2016! 

#1 Life and Death at Fort Howard
This immersive experience leads visitors through tales of murder, lost love, and even whiskey smuggling.  You’re transported back 200 years when Green Bay was home to a booming fur trade.  In 1816, the U.S. Army threw themselves into the mix. What happens when soldiers from the east coast are forced into a community of French, Métis, and Native peoples?  You’ll have to see the exhibit to find out.

Fort Howard went beyond the exhibit floor- it was the subject of several interesting programs including public archaeology of the site and a lively performance of the fort’s biggest foe, Ebenezer Childs by Let Me Be Frank Productions. 

The exhibition opened in April 2016 and doesn’t close until April 2017.  This means you still have time to check it out!



#2 Morbid Curiosities
When we started planning to pull out some of our morbid artifacts for a special Halloween event, we weren’t certain what the response would be.  We sure were surprised when the event for only 25 people quickly sold out.  The team ended up accommodating more than 150 people that evening.  Visitors shared their haunted experiences and were able to explore morbid artifacts and their stories not usually on display. 

If you missed it this year make sure to get tickets early for next year’s Halloween- themed event!  

#3 #NevilleCats and Feline Fine
We were overwhelmed by the response to our Instagram contest #NevilleCats.  Cat lovers were able to submit photos of their feline friends and winners were chosen for display in the museum.  In the end we had over 1,000 photos submitted!  All of this accompanied the traveling exhibition Feline FineFeline Fine featured art in all different mediums from artists all over the country.  The works for art depicted all different kinds of cats, from our favorite household pets to African Lions.

 #4 Nebula Jars and Explorer Wednesday

To accompany our astronomy exhibit, Eyes on the Sky, our educator thought it would be fun to create nebula jars on Explorer Wednesday in August.  This also had an overwhelming response and we’re grateful to have been able to share this experience with over 100 families. 

Explorer Wednesday is every first Wednesday of the month during our free night for Brown County residents.

#5 Ice Age Imperials
This traveling exhibition not only transported visitors back in time but also allowed them to touch fossils!  It’s not every day you get to touch a dire wolf tooth or giant sloth claw.  The arrival of this exhibit was a great chance for us to pull out some fossils from our collection, including our mammoth tusk from Alaska! 


There were so many more events and exhibits that helped make 2016 a great year for the Neville.  Did we miss your favorite? Comment and let us know what your favorite exhibit/event/program was this past year!  

A Night at the Museum 2016

Tuesday, December 20, 2016
The Neville Public Museum Foundation held its 2nd annual A Night at the Museum event on the evening of December 13, 2016 at the Neville Public Museum in Green Bay! 

Guests enjoyed great food, a silent auction, entertainment from the John Kelley Duo and Shawn Connelly & Jordan Christianson, and several activity stations including a photo opportunity, a demo by the local chapter of the Embroiderers Guild of America, a Rug Display by the Green Bay & De Pere Antiquarians, a demo of a historic card game, Bruce the Spruce, an Archaeology station and more.

The success of the event was attributed to the participation of over 130 guests, the sale of 38 silent auction baskets/experiences, and Lego Lambeau Fan Sales. We had the generous support of many silent auction donors, 18 table and station sponsors and individual ticket buyers. We also benefited from generous discounts and outright donations by our supportive vendors. Many thanks are extended to all involved. 

This year’s event brought in over $20,000 after expenses, which will be used to help fund the Museum’s exhibits, exhibit-related programming and other educational activities. Because of generous sponsors like you the Neville Public Museum Foundation is able to support the mission of the Neville Public Museum and inspire audiences by presenting innovative and thought-provoking exhibits, educational programs and public events on history, science and art. 

On behalf of the Foundation Board of Directors and the planning committee, we extend a special thank you to all of our sponsors, donors, volunteers and guests that helped make the event a great success! We greatly appreciate your support in helping to create a community legacy of bridging communities and connecting generations!  

Kasha Huntowski
Executive Director, Neville Public Museum Foundation

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