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Last Chance to See 'Tis the Season Exhibit


One wing of the 'Tis the Season exhibit of sparkling aluminum Christmas trees

Another Christmas season may be behind us, but holiday revelers still have one last chance to see the state's largest collection of classic 1960s aluminum Christmas trees, on exhibit through January 11 at the Wisconsin Historical Museum in Madison, The exhibit, 'Tis the Season, features all the trees from the museum's permanent collection as well as trees on loan from around the state and country.

A Wisconsin Original

Wisconsin's own Aluminum Specialty Company of Manitowoc had been manufacturing aluminum toys for decades when the company stumbled upon a new idea — the aluminum Christmas tree. After introducing the tree at the American Toy Fair in March of 1959, the company produced hundreds of thousands of trees under the brand name Evergleam. Eventually, revolving stands, color wheels and trees in a variety of colors became available. Though its popularity peaked in the mid-1960s, the aluminum tree remains a highly desired collectible.

Aluminum Specialty stopped making the trees in the early 1970s, but many of the company's trees remained integral to family Christmas traditions. Today the trees are in high demand at antique stores throughout Wisconsin, and online auctions command substantial prices. Today, "The pink trees are the holy grail," says 'Tis the season curator Joe Kapler, who continually grows the museum's collection. Kapler has not seen one surface on the market since 2005.

"The aluminum Christmas tree is a huge Wisconsin story," says Kapler. "It's about a Wisconsin manufacturer creating a national design trend and becoming a breakthrough success. What started as a space-age departure from tradition ironically, today, evokes nostalgic Christmas memories."

If You Go

For complete details on the museum's hours, admission, location, accessibility, parking and bus routes, view our visitor information pages.

:: Posted January 2, 2014

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