Scanning the Permanent Exhibit at the Neville Public Museum

Over the course of time, a few nations, whether indigenous or hailing from across the Atlantic, have set claim to Green Bay, Wisconsin. Now, since the War of 1812’s end, this blue collar Midwestern city is truly an American town. Heck, even a US president, known as Zachary Taylor, called this port city home. So naturally, with this land steeped in pioneer and American lore, Green Bay has a museum worth setting eyes on.

The Neville Museum’s permanent Generations Gallery is brand new, although fairly small. Yet, there are truly inspiring artifacts that will captivate your imagination. It also reminds me that I’m aging, as I stumble upon appliances I know well. It’s a delight, a nostalgic trip to the past. While gazing upon these testaments of time, I could almost feel my grandparents’ utterances fill my inner child’s soul. And a trip through the past, one that educates and leaves one feeling good about their community, is what a local museum is all about.

So on with my trip to the Neville Public Museum’s Generation’s Gallery

It’s an ordinary October day in Packerland. Yes, I’m talking about Green Bay, Wisconsin, home of the legendary Green Bay Packers. But hold on a second, as you may think of the tradition and history that comes with that storied franchise, there is so much more to be said of Green Bay. Heck, before Wisconsin earned its statehood, Titletown was large enough for its own newspaper. There’s some serious history here, and I’m going to explore my city’s past at the Neville Public Museum.

When I stroll through the doors, I come across an attendant. At first, he is going to charge me $7 for entrance. However, I have a trump card idly waiting in my wallet. I brandish my veteran’s ID and am granted free passage into the museum. I have to hand it to my parents, who implored me to join the military. It has reaped so many benefits, plus I am pretty proud to have defended this country’s freedom. Some have fallen at a premature age. I feel humbled to know that I stand as a symbol of their sacrifice, living free in the land that I love.

But on to the museum….

I’m pretty psyched, this new exhibit has been a long time coming. I do love this portion, because it hits home on so many levels. My ancestors, while most didn’t inhabit the city of Green Bay, have lived in this area for generations. And basically, that’s what this exhibit highlights; Green Bay and the surrounding areas.

I ascend the stairs and come across the ice tunnel entrance…it’s not actually frozen water , more like plastic or something. Whatever the case, this icy welcome has stood for decades. Because of that, I’m guessing my face displays a perplexed emotion. Don’t get me wrong, the tunnel is cool…no pun intended, but I was expecting something new. After all, they did do a wholesale renovation.

The Ice age and pre-contact segment is not as large as I once remembered. There’s a general overview and then I get to the main portion of this new exhibit. For the most part, the Generation Gallery is a large room, chuck full of remnants of the past, stylishly displayed in a dimly lit expanse. Strategically placed lights accent the high points.

In the center of this room, cool exhibits are placed about. The fashionable layout, with these showcases adhering to trends, is pleasing both visually and emotionally. Although I’m surrounded by vestiges of the past, the atmosphere hints at chic and hip sentiments.

Along the borders of this room, a myriad of artifacts line the walls. There’s reminders of family farms, brewhouses, ice houses, sporting ventures and so much more. There’s actually a lot to take in.

Set in the center, some displays remind me that I’m becoming older. I find a couple of kitchen exhibits, one from the thirties and the other depicting life in the fifties. I’m expecting a dish of fried potatoes and hamburger, cooked with a heap of lard, to be served up from my grandmother.

Anyways, there are also exhibits that remind me of a past well before my existence… not saying I was alive during the fifties, but many of these vestiges had no place in any part of my life. Most profoundly, I find Green Bay’s first pump wagon, used for the extinguishing of fires, standing proudly restored in this collection of artifacts. Along with that are older military uniforms, an antique car and more. There’s also some pretty cool artwork set in this place.

Although it’s fun and very cool looking, it’s a pretty busy room. I also feel it’s a tad generic. I feel many midwestern museum’s look the same. I mean, it’s missing the military fort and fur trading history for sure. This was also a landing spot for Jesuit missionaries. Such traits give Green Bay that unique historical aura.

On the other hand, the Neville is competing with other museums in Green Bay. I’m glad I don’t find a lot on the Packers at the Neville. The Packer Hall of Fame covers the teams history admirably. And the fur trading and military history is ,very much a focal point at heritage hill. So, for those visiting the city, this spot doesn’t reiterate subjects of other Green Bay historical attractions.

I guess I’m satisfied. The presentation of this new exhibit is quite eye appealing. Many of the new exhibits capture the mundane, at least what was mundane to those living in that era, quite well. And I think that’s what’s fun for people of all ages, when one can witness the true common life of the past. It makes me appreciate those that came before me and, resultingly, gave me life.

Safe Travels!

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