Wisconsin Historical Society

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Share Your Voice: Manitowoc

Area residents discuss plans for a new Wisconsin history museum

Share Your Voice: Manitowoc | Wisconsin Historical Society
Guests enjoy a laugh while discussing favorite museum experiences during the Wisconsin Historical Society's "Share Your Voice" new museum session Nov. 8 at the Wisconsin Maritime Museum in Manitowoc.


Guests enjoy a laugh while discussing favorite museum experiences during the Wisconsin Historical Society's "Share Your Voice" new museum session Nov. 8, 2018, at the Wisconsin Maritime Museum in Manitowoc. It was the seventh and final session of 2018 for the statewide engagement series, with at least 26 more planned across the state during the first six months of 2019.

 

Story and photos by Dean Witter
Wisconsin Historical Foundation


MANITOWOC — The 2018 portion of the Wisconsin Historical Society’s “Share Your Voice” new museum statewide engagement series ended on a high note Nov. 8 with a lively discussion and exchange of ideas at a beautiful setting: The Wisconsin Maritime Museum.

The museum highlights Great Lakes maritime history and the star attraction is the World War II submarine USS Cobia, which is connected to the museum. It was donated in 1970 by the U.S. Navy to commemorate the role the city played in building submarines in support of the war effort.

Windows overlooking the Manitowoc River and the Cobia added extra inspiration to the session, which was the seventh and final of 2018. At least 26 more will be held in other parts of the state through June 2019 as the Society continues to gather important local feedback and ideas that will inform the planning for a new Wisconsin history museum.

EnlargeWisconsin Maritime Museum Deputy Director Cathy Green, co-host of the "Share Your Voice" session, welcomes guests to the Manitowoc museum and talks about its decades-long relationship with the Society.

Wisconsin Maritime Museum Deputy Director Cathy Green, co-host of the "Share Your Voice" session, welcomes guests to the Manitowoc museum and talks about its decades-long relationship with the Society.

Maritime Museum Deputy Director Cathy Green welcomed guests and highlighted her organization’s longtime association with the Wisconsin Historical Society, especially its maritime archaeologists.

“We’ve worked closely with the Society for decades,” Green said. “As stewards of thousands of artifacts from Wisconsin shipwrecks, our relationship with the Society is crucial in how we tell the story of Wisconsin’s maritime history. The archaeological data they gather and the research they undertake really informs how we present the stories of lost ships to the public.

EnlargeManitowoc County Historical Society Executive Director Amy Meyer, co-host of the session, welcomes guests.


Manitowoc County Historical Society Executive Director Amy Meyer, co-host of the session, welcomes guests.

“It’s exciting to contemplate how this Wisconsin maritime story is going to be told as part of a new state history museum. We look forward to reciprocating a lot of the help we’ve gotten from the Society over the years.”

Manitowoc County Historical Society Executive Director Amy Meyer, who co-hosted the event, echoed Green’s sentiments with her enthusiasm for the project.

“We have a wonderful, rich history here in Manitowoc County,” she said, “and now we have an opportunity to share that with the rest of the state and visitors from throughout the country who will be visiting the new Wisconsin history museum. This is our opportunity to get our local history out on a state level. We’re excited to show the state what we’re proud of and what we’re made of and what makes Manitowoc County such a great part of Wisconsin.”

Meyer then introduced Alicia Goehring, the Society’s Director of Special Projects, who led the session.

“We want to learn what’s important to you,” Goehring said. “We are in the very early stages of planning the new museum. This is going to be your museum, and we want to make sure that we get a lot of feedback so we get it right.”

Goehring introduced the project with a video that highlighted the new museum’s overall storytelling theme “What Makes Wisconsin, Wisconsin?” She then engaged guests in workshop-type activities during which they shared topics of local importance and participated in a discussion about their most memorable museum experiences.

Attendees used Post-It notes to share ideas about what people across the state should know about their area and its history. Those notes were placed on theme boards in the front of the room and were saved by Society staff to inform future museum planning as well as for creating word clouds to highlight most-suggested terms at each location and overall. (See Manitowoc’s word cloud below.)

Guests also reviewed nine exhibit design concept renderings and placed green stickers on the ones they liked the most and a red sticker on their least favorite. Goehring stressed the preliminary status of the designs. “Don’t think that this is what’s going to be built,” she said. “We wanted something for people to react to. Then as we move forward in the planning process, all sorts of changes will be made.”

After stickers were placed, Goehring led a discussion asking people to share their thoughts on certain renderings.

Enlarge"Industrial Innovation" New museum exhibit concept rendering (Credit: Gallagher & Associates)

"Industrial Innovation"

New museum exhibit concept rendering (Credit: Gallagher & Associates)

One of the most popular renderings was titled “Industrial Innovation” (pictured at right), featuring a potential immersive experience in which guests would be able to walk inside a recreation of a massive, 15-foot-tall hydraulic turbine that was made by Milwaukee manufacturer Allis-Chalmers to be used at Niagara Falls. As guests walk through the massive structure, they would learn about Wisconsin’s rich manufacturing history through multimedia projections on the walls.

“I think this would be an example of an exhibit that could produce a lot of emotion,” one woman said. “I know I would come out of there with a lot of pride. I would be so proud of our state for doing something like this for our country.”

“Industry is a very important part of the history of Wisconsin,” said another guest.

“It’s so diverse throughout the state,” added another. “From paper making to beer making to tire making … there are so many other things. It tells the story of the history of our state and how we developed, depending on what area you’re from.”

It’s no surprise that the Industrial Innovation theme board also attracted a large amount of Post-It notes from the group, with topics including ship building, submarine building, aluminum manufacturing, shipyards, woolen mills, tanneries, cheese factories, commercial fishing and brewing.

As at other engagement sessions, the rendering receiving the most mixed reaction was one of a giant cow sculpture featuring items from all 72 counties. It attracted most of the red stickers from the group.

EnlargeExhibit design rendering of a giant cow art installation. (Credit: Gallagher & Associates)

"Sculptural Display Featuring Objects from all 72 Counties"

Exhibit design rendering of a giant cow art installation. (Credit: Gallagher & Associates)

“This cow has been hotly debated throughout the state,” Goehring said with a laugh when opening discussion about it.

“It just seems to me (that it implies) that when you say Wisconsin, you think of beer and cows,” said one woman who used her red sticker on it. “It’s so narrow. We’re more than just cows.”

“There’s just too much going on,” added a man.

However, the cow concept did have some supporters.

“I like the idea of there being sort of an art installation,” a woman said.

“As somebody from outside the state originally, the cow is ‘Wisconsin,’” said a man. “Whether you like it or not, the cow is probably the most identifiable symbol outside the state.”

“I smiled when I saw it,” added another woman. “Oftentimes when you go to museums you get information, information, information. There’s so much. And the one thing I often recall are seeing things like this.”

Goehring said the woman’s remark touched on a philosophy guiding museum planners.

“What we’re hoping,” she said, “is that when people leave the museum, they will have learned something, but they also will have felt something.”

Guests write down their favorite and most iconic Wisconsin memories during the Society's "Share Your Voice" new museum session at the Wisconsin Maritime Museum in Manitowoc.

Guests write down their favorite and most iconic Wisconsin memories during the Wisconsin Historical Society's "Share Your Voice" new museum session Nov. 8, 2018, at the Wisconsin Maritime Museum in Manitowoc. The Post-It notes were placed onto "What Makes Wisconsin, Wisconsin?" theme boards along the wall.

This word cloud was created from Post-It note suggestions by attendees at the Manitowoc "Share Your Voice" session.

Manitowoc "Share Your Voice" word cloud

This word cloud was created from Post-It note suggestions by attendees at the Manitowoc "Share Your Voice" session.

Windows overlooking the Manitowoc River and the World War II submarine USS Cobia, which is connected to the Wisconsin Maritime Museum, added extra inspiration to the session.

Windows overlooking the Manitowoc River and the World War II submarine USS Cobia, which is connected to the Wisconsin Maritime Museum, added extra inspiration to the session. The vessel was donated in 1970 by the U.S. Navy to commemorate the role the city of Manitowoc played in building submarines in support of the war effort.

Kevin Cullen, Deputy Director of Green Bay's Neville Public Museum, shares his thoughts during the Nov. 8 session at the Wisconsin Maritime Museum in Manitowoc.


Kevin Cullen, Deputy Director of Green Bay's Neville Public Museum, shares his thoughts during the Nov. 8, 2018, session at the Wisconsin Maritime Museum in Manitowoc.

A guest places his preference sticker onto a new museum exhibit concept during the Nov. 8, 2018, "Share Your Voice" session in Manitowoc.

A guest places his preference sticker onto a new museum exhibit concept during the Nov. 8, 2018, "Share Your Voice" session in Manitowoc.

 A guest places his preference sticker onto a new museum exhibit concept during the "Share Your Voice" session Nov. 8, 2018, at the Wisconsin Maritime Museum in Manitowoc.

A guest places his preference sticker onto a new museum exhibit concept during the "Share Your Voice" session Nov. 8, 2018, at the Wisconsin Maritime Museum in Manitowoc.

Guests share a laugh while discussing memorable museum experiences during the "Share Your Voice" session in Manitowoc on Nov. 8, 2018.


Guests share a laugh while discussing memorable museum experiences during the "Share Your Voice" session in Manitowoc on Nov. 8, 2018.

 Alicia Goehring, Director of Special Projects for the Wisconsin Historical Society, leads the "Share Your Voice" session at the Wisconsin Maritime Museum in Manitowoc on Nov. 8, 2018.

Alicia Goehring, Director of Special Projects for the Wisconsin Historical Society, leads the "Share Your Voice" session at the Wisconsin Maritime Museum in Manitowoc on Nov. 8, 2018.

A guest studies the art installation new museum exhibit concept rendering during the "Share Your Voice" session at the Wisconsin Maritime Museum in Manitowoc on Nov. 8, 2018.


A guest studies the art installation new museum exhibit concept rendering during the "Share Your Voice" session at the Wisconsin Maritime Museum in Manitowoc on Nov. 8, 2018.

Guests discuss new museum renderings and their favorite museum experiences during the "Share Your Voice" session at the Wisconsin Maritime Museum in Manitowoc on Nov. 8, 2018.


Guests discuss new museum renderings and their favorite museum experiences during the "Share Your Voice" session at the Wisconsin Maritime Museum in Manitowoc on Nov. 8, 2018.

Guests discuss new museum renderings and their favorite museum experiences during the "Share Your Voice" session at the Wisconsin Maritime Museum in Manitowoc on Nov. 8, 2018.


A guest discusses her favorite museum experiences during the "Share Your Voice" session
at the Wisconsin Maritime Museum in Manitowoc on Nov. 8, 2018.

Attendees write down their favorite and most iconic Wisconsin memories, which were then placed onto "What Makes Wisconsin, Wisconsin?" theme boards during the "Share Your Voice" session in Manitowoc on Nov. 8, 2018.

Attendees write down their favorite and most iconic Wisconsin memories, which were then placed onto "What Makes Wisconsin, Wisconsin?" theme boards during the "Share Your Voice" session in Manitowoc on Nov. 8, 2018.

Guests discuss new museum renderings and their favorite museum experiences during the "Share Your Voice" session at the Wisconsin Maritime Museum in Manitowoc on Nov. 8, 2018.


Guests discuss new museum renderings and their favorite museum experiences during the "Share Your Voice" session at the Wisconsin Maritime Museum in Manitowoc on Nov. 8, 2018.

Guests in Manitowoc watch the Society's "What Makes Wisconsin, Wisconsin?" video featuring veteran Milwaukee television reporter Jessie Garcia. The video highlights the role of the Society and explains the new Wisconsin history museum project.


Guests in Manitowoc watch the Society's "What Makes Wisconsin, Wisconsin?" video narrated by veteran Milwaukee television reporter Jessie Garcia. The video highlights the role of the Society and explains the new Wisconsin history museum project.

 

 "Share Your Voice" session locations

"Share Your Voice" session locations