The Neville Public Museum
The Neville Blog
#1 Our Brown County, Opens May 29, 2018
Our Brown County is a celebration of 200 years of history focusing on the stories that make Brown County the place we choose to live, work, and play. Explore these stories through 50 artifacts, 50 photographs, 50 people, and 50 places that demonstrate the complex, diverse, and rich history of Brown County.
Opens August 11, 2018
It has been one hundred years since the Green Bay Packers were formed but African American players have only been part of the story since 1950. These athletes made an immediate impact on the game, but what happened off the field? In this exhibit, discover how the challenges and contributions of African American players have changed our community.
#3 Holiday Memories of Downtown Green Bay
Opens November 10, 2018
Celebrate the holiday season at the Neville! See our Snow Babies, charming “Dolls of Christmas Past,” and enchanted forest that once adorned H.C. Prange department store. Holiday Memories returns as a full gallery exhibit this year.
Other holiday events include the Children Only Shop, and Bruce the Spruce. Holiday Memories is a wonderful family tradition.
We’re proud to introduce our newest program series in 2018: SPARK!
SPARK! is a cultural program for people with early to mid-stage memory loss and their care partners. Programs are designed to keep participants actively engaged in their communities by providing experiences that stimulate conversations, provide peer support, and inspire creativity through engaging in museum experiences.
You can find more information about SPARK! at the Neville here.
#5 Morbid Curiosities, October 2018
Get your tickets early for this in-demand Halloween-time program! Explore some of morbid and creepy artifacts in our collections, pulled for one night only. Don't miss your chance to get up close and personal with these rarely-seen objects.
This is not your average museum tour. Come prepared to laugh, play games, experience the exhibits in a new way, and maybe even touch some stuff.
#1 Neon: Darkness Electrified
Neon: Darkness Electrified illuminates the history and explores the science behind the glowing tubes. Most of these neon signs have disappeared from highways and storefronts. A local collector, Jed Schleisner, works diligently to gather and restore these historic pieces of Americana. Neon opened in July and since thousands of guests have explored the exhibit. The exhibit has also been featured in several events like Electrified: Library Summer’s Reader Day, 90s Night, and a Night at the Museum.
#2 Morbid Curiosities: 99 Ways to Die
Morbid Curiosities returned in 2017 for its second year. This year 300 guests (doubled from last year) explored deadly museum artifacts. A murder mystery and black light art project provided added Halloween fun! If you missed it this year make sure to get tickets early for next year’s Morbid Curiosities!
#3 Artifact Tournament
In September the museum hosted an Artifact Tournament to select an artifact for the upcoming exhibit Our Brown County. Eight artifacts went head to head in this bracket style competition. Over 400 votes were counted via Facebook and the winner was a Vietnam War Flight Suit worn by John Evans (1965-1973). The Flight Suit will be on exhibit in Our Brown County opening May 29, 2018!
#4 Alice in Dairyland
This year marked the fourth time Brown County hosted the Alice in Dairyland Finals. It was one of the largest finals events ever and was held at the legendary Lambeau Field. In celebration of this event the exhibit Alice in Dairyland opened in January. During the Finals weekend thirty one of sixty nine Alices visited the exhibit. Among them was Margaret (McGuire) Blott, the first Alice. This exhibit explored the impact Wisconsin agriculture has on our everyday lives, along with Alice, in a one of a kind hands-on experience.
#5 Explorer Wednesday Lava Lamps
Each first Wednesday of the month is Explorer Wednesday. From 5-7pm during Brown County Resident Free Night guest can participate in art projects, science experiments, or guided tours of exhibits. In August, guests made their own Lava Lamps!
There were so many more events and exhibits that helped make 2017 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!
The History of Rahr's Brewery
Over a year ago, when we began our initial research for our exhibit Life and Death at Fort Howard, we naturally looked to our collections from the prominent “founding fathers” of Green Bay. Men like Morgan L Martin, Henry Baird, and many members of the Grignon family were all connected with the first settlers in Green Bay. However, we kept coming across a man named Ebenezer Childs, who was mentioned throughout many official records and personal correspondences, but who he was and what he did was never really explained. Using books and articles that researchers before us had written we finally identified this character, and even found that he had written a very short autobiography.
Childs’ memoirs were the piece of the puzzle we needed…or so we thought. He writes of his many exploits; some as simple as building the first framed home in Green Bay, building the first ox yolk here, partnering with John Arndt to build the first sawmill in the area, and even claiming to have brought the first piece of lead to Green Bay. Other tales, such as how he eluded the authorities of the fort to illegally sell alcohol to the soldiers, survived harrowing journeys to St Louis and Madison, and outran tax collectors as a young man in his home state of Massachusetts are more fanciful. However, in a letter to his lawyer, Morgan L Martin, we discovered a whole side of Childs’ life that he did not share in his remembrances.
As historians, the case of Ebenezer Childs reminds us of two things. First, the process of doing history is messy and murky. Researchers in the present day can only use the sources that have not been destroyed or lost. Who knows how many stories, people, and events have been forgotten simply because no record of them survives? The second lesson is that you can’t always believe everything you read. Childs makes many claims in his own autobiography, but we can also prove he left many things out. Neither a modern day Facebook profile nor a 150 year old autobiography can tell us the complete story of a person’s life, and it’s easy for the writer to embellish, omit, or simply misremember the facts.
Stay tuned for Part II of this blog, where we reveal the scandals that may have caused Ebenezer Childs to have been “erased” from history. Or, even better, visit Life and Death at Fort Howard to discover what we know about Childs’ life. And even better than that, visit us on Wednesday, August 17 at 6:00 p.m. for our Exhibits Exposed program, where we will share new information about Childs that has been discovered even after the exhibit opened along with additional artifacts and stories about the people of early Green Bay.
Frank Hermans of Let Me Be Frank Productions will be bringing the vivacious character to life this weekend only at the museum. For more information and tickets visit Ticket Star.
On May 20th and 21st I had the pleasure of leading a public archaeological survey at the site of the historic military site, Fort Howard, in downtown Green Bay. Thanks to special permission from Brent Weycker, owner of Titletown Brewery, we were allowed to set up a survey area behind the brewery along the railroad tracks. Based on historic maps and previous research, this area is thought to be the location of the southeast section of the former fort.
More than one hundred people came out both days to learn about the fort’s history and the technology being used to locate it. Although we know the approximate location of the fort we do not know exactly where the stockade or any of the buildings stood. The main technology used in the survey was the museums’ Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR).
GPR is a technology that uses radio waves to “look” into the earth without digging. The radio waves bounce off of buried objects and are captured on a computer chip. After the survey area is mapped the data can be sliced in layers using special computer software. This can reveal patterns that might give clues to the size and shape of buried features and how deep these features are located.
Over the course of the 2 days, 3 survey grids were collected with a total area of 5,433 cubic feet. The depth that the GPR was looking was just over 6 feet deep. After processing the data, it was clear that there is large amount of disturbance in the first 2 feet or so, likely from the past hundred years of railroad activity. However below 2 feet things got interesting.
Around 3 feet below the surface, a series of anomalies appeared in all of the survey grids we collected. Once the grids were stitched together at the same depth, a pattern emerged that strongly points to these anomalies as being human-made and possibly associated with the historic Fort Howard. At this time we cannot confirm that what the GPR is showing us is the fort but if there was to be a controlled archaeological excavation, we can recommend an exact location to dig. Known as “ground truthing,” an excavation would prove if what we’re seeing are the remains of wall foundations or something else.
In the meantime, we hope to continue surveying the area behind Titletown Brewery, and hopefully beyond, in order to piece together a much larger understanding of Fort Howard. If the patterns in the data below one meter continue, then it will make for a compelling case that we have located the foundations of the fort that made Green Bay American.
I will be presenting the findings of our GPR survey at a special Hardcore History event on August 9th at 6pm. If you want to learn more about the history of the site and Fort Howard’s influence on Green Bay visit our current exhibit Life and Death at Fort Howard open through April 2017!
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.
Last March I was offered the amazing opportunity to join the staff of the Neville as the Research Technician. From helping launch our online image collection Snapshots in Time, to planning youth and adult programs, and to working with our team on the upcoming Life and Death at Fort Howard exhibit, I’ve learned a lot about the museum itself and about the community of Green Bay. Being from the Madison area I was aware of the Neville and the role Green Bay played in state history (and of course the Packers), but over the past 8 months my family and I have come to learn what a great place to live this really is. I’m excited to share that I’ve recently been offered the chance to continue my career path here at the Neville by moving into the Education and Events Coordinator position. I look forward to many more years of providing my friends and neighbors with the types of experiences that make the Neville such a valuable and unique resource.
In this new role I hope to support the Neville’s mission of “Bridging Communities, Connecting Generations” by finding the best ways to serve the many groups and audiences we have here in Brown County. In the coming months we will be rolling out a handful of new program series’ for kids, families, and adults, and will continue to make changes to our school and youth programs to better fit the needs of educators. We’ll also be developing programs for scouts, planning summer camps, and making ourselves available for outreach education beyond the museum’s walls. I look forward to continuing to be part of the exhibit design team where I’ll work to develop interactive and hand’s-on elements for our exhibits that will bring them to life for visitors of all ages.
I can’t say “thank you” enough to my colleagues, new friends, and the community of Green Bay for being so welcoming to my family and me. I can’t wait to return the favor through my work here at the Neville Public Museum.
Ryan Swadley, Education and Events Coordinator
Approximately 71% of Earth’s surface is covered with water and yet only about 5% of it has been documented by humans. Water is vital to life as we know it, yet, we know so very little about what exists in our oceans, seas, or lakes. Similarly, we know little about how these water systems behave, effect climate, or what secrets they harbor. Fortunately, over the past century scientists and explorers have begun to access the mysterious depths of our oceans and Great Lakes thanks to advances in technology.
At the Neville Public Museum, we are revealing these mysterious worlds through exhibits and public programs. Whether it is shipwrecks, submarines, or sea creatures that interest you, we invite your whole family to come and participate in this exciting adventure taking place in downtown Green Bay. The following exhibits and programs are being offered at the museum.
September 19, 2015 – January 6, 2016
Come face-to-face with the last frontier - the deep sea. Meet Alvin, JASON and Remus, state-of-the-art robotic explorers that will take you on extreme deep adventures. There you’ll discover bizarre fish and tour sunken ships.
Shipwrecks of the Fox River
September 19, 2015 – January 6, 2016
This exhibit displays through photographs the removal of nine tugboats, barges and dredges that were extracted from the Fox River between 2013 and 2014. For more than three-quarters of a century, these workhorses of Green Bay’s early shipping days lay sunken in the Fox River Shipwreck Graveyard.
Navigating our Waterways
September 19, 2015 – January 6, 2016
This series of photographs and historic shipping ledgers illustrates the variety of vessels that worked Green Bay’s waters in pursuit of commerce and recreation. Whether they were schooners, tug boats, barges, or freighters, they all played a role in the development of this city’s landscape.
Saturday, October 17, 2015 11 am - 3 pm
All Hands on Deck for Hands-on Fun! Science activities, crafts, demonstrations, and games will be available at the museum for all ages. Learn about Scuba Diving and Wisconsin’s shipwrecks, Listen to pirate-themed stories and meet Pirate Pete for photo opportunities. Regular admission rates apply.
This series evening lectures brings some of the leading experts in their fields of Great Lakes research to the Neville Public Museum. These lectures are free and begin at 6pm.
October 6: Deep Water Archeology by Tamara Thomsen, underwater archaeologist for the Wisconsin Historical Society
October 13: The Great Lakes: Their Future by Val Klump, Director of the Great Lakes WATER Institute
October 20: Climate Change and the Great Lakes by Julia Noordyk, Coastal Storms and Water Quality Specialist
Saturday October 10th (10am – 4pm)
This annual event brings together underwater archaeologists, maritime historians, and divers, for a day of presentations about maritime history and underwater archaeology in Wisconsin waters and beyond. Registration is $20 and is open to the public.
Kevin Cullen, Deputy Director
- 5 Things to Look Forward to in 2020
- Top 5 Moments at the Museum in 2019
- Green Bay's Monster Maker
- Women's History Month: Mildred Hollman Smith
- Women's History Month: Elizabeth Baird
- Women's History Month: Deborah Beaumont Martin
- First African American in Pro Football Hall of Fame Played for the Packers
- Where Did Lombardi-Era African American Players Live?
- African American Civil War Veteran Makes His Home in De Pere
- Why is there a Lions Jersey in a Packers exhibit?
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