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Share Your Voice: Appleton

Residents attend morning session to discuss plans for a new Wisconsin history museum

Share Your Voice: Appleton | Wisconsin Historical Society
A guest shares her thoughts during a discussion at the Wisconsin Historical Society's "Share Your Voice" new museum listening session March 13, 2019 at the Appleton’s History Museum at the Castle.


A guest shares her thoughts during a discussion at the Wisconsin Historical Society's "Share Your Voice" new museum listening session March 20, 2019 at The History Museum at the Castle in Appleton. It was the 15th of more than 40 sessions the Society is planning to hold across the state, and the first to be held in the morning.

 

Story and photos by Julia Pafford
Wisconsin Historical Foundation


APPLETON – The early birds were out in force on March 20 as dozens of area residents adjusted their morning routine and turned out for 8:30 a.m. start time to participate in the Wisconsin Historical Society’s first “Share Your Voice” new museum listening session to be held in the morning.

The event at Appleton’s History Museum at the Castle was the 15th of more than 40 engagement sessions the Society is holding across Wisconsin through the first several months of 2019 in an effort to share early plans and seek public ideas for the new $100 million Wisconsin history museum it plans to build to replace its current museum on Wisconsin’s Capitol Square in Madison.

The History Museum at the Castle shares the rich history of the Fox River Valley through collections, exhibits and education programs. The 90-minute “Share Your Voice” program took place in a sunny room where guests gathered for good food and conversation, just across from a temporary exhibit on the history of professional football in America.

The exhibit features Pro Football Hall of Famer Jerry Kramer’s No. 64 Green Bay Packers jersey, which is on loan from the Society’s collections. The jersey is a wonderful example of how the Society can partner with local history organizations to make the past come alive for people across Wisconsin.

EnlargeAppleton Historical Society President Tom Sutter welcomes guests to the "Share Your Voice" session March 13, 2019. "We appreciate the daunting task it takes to create and operate a museum dedicated to history,” he said.


Appleton Historical Society President Tom Sutter welcomes guests to the "Share Your Voice" session March 20, 2019. "We appreciate the daunting task it takes to create and operate a museum dedicated to history,” he said. “Imagine being responsible for all 72 counties of the state of Wisconsin. It gives one great pause and appreciation for those who are charged with the responsibility of telling the story of the entire state of Wisconsin.”

Appleton Historical Society President Tom Sutter welcomed guests and highlighted the Wisconsin Historical Society’s challenge of sharing the stories of the whole state in a new museum.

“As a new kid on the block so to speak, we appreciate the daunting task it takes to create and operate a museum dedicated to history,” he said. “Imagine being responsible for all 72 counties of the state of Wisconsin. It gives one great pause and appreciation for those who are charged with the responsibility of telling the story of the entire state of Wisconsin.”

Matt Carpenter, Executive Director of The History Museum at the Castle, which co-hosted the event, emphasized the importance of his organization’s partnership with the Society and shared his thoughts on the new museum project.

“It’s important,” he said. “It’s important for all of us in this state. It’s our past, and it will inform our future.” 

EnlargeMatt Carpenter, Executive Director of Appleton's History Museum at the Castle, which co-hosted the "Share Your Voice" event, called a new state history museum “important for all of us in this state. It’s our past, and it will inform our future.”


Matt Carpenter, Executive Director of The History Museum at the Castle in Appleton, which co-hosted the Wisconsin Historical Society's "Share Your Voice" event, talked about the importance of a new state history museum for Wisconsin. “It’s important,” he said. “It’s important for all of us in this state. It’s our past, and it will inform our future.”

Carpenter then introduced Christian Øverland, the Ruth and Hartley Barker Director of the Wisconsin Historical Society, who led the session.

“Your voice is the most important piece of what we’re going to do today,” Øverland said.

To kick off discussion, Øverland introduced the new museum project with a six-minute video that outlined the overall storytelling focus of the new museum — “What Makes Wisconsin, Wisconsin?” — as well as several underlying themes.

After the video, Øverland introduced the activities the group would complete together to share their feedback on museum plans.

First, Øverland asked guests to write down on Post-It notes three to five local stories or ideas that they think should be represented in the new museum. Staff collected the answers and posted them on theme boards at the front of the room. Society staff is saving and recording these suggestions at all statewide events to inform new museum planning and create a word cloud to highlight the most-suggested topics. They’re also used to create word clouds from each session (see Appleton's word cloud below). 

EnlargeBill Collar of the Seymour Community Historical Society shares the “Hamburger Charlie’s” jingle with guests at the Wisconsin Historical Society's "Share Your Voice" event March 13, 2019 in Appleton.


Bill Collar of the Seymour Community Historical Society shares the “Hamburger Charlie” jingle with guests at the Wisconsin Historical Society's "Share Your Voice" event March 20, 2019 in Appleton. Seymour considers itself the "Home of the Hamburger" thanks Charlie Nagreen, who in 1885 at age 15 took his ox cart from Hortonville to the Seymour Fair to sell his ground beef-and-onion meatballs. That's when he decided to smash the meatballs into a patties and put them between two pieces of bread so it would be easier for customers to take the meal with them.  225 W Main St, Platteville, WItrat 

Bill Collar of the Seymour Community Historical Society explained how a partnership with a new state history museum would be a wonderful way for historical organizations in small communities to connect with guests.

He proudly noted that his city considers itself the "Home of the Hamburger," and he entertained guests by delivering a rousing rendition of the “Hamburger Charlie” jingle: “Hamburger, hamburger, hamburger hot. With an onion in the middle and a pickle on top. Makes your lips go flippity-flop! Come on over. Try an order fried in butter. Listen to it sputter!

The jingle honors Charlie Nagreen, who in 1885 at age 15 rode his ox cart from his home in Hortonville 25 miles to the Seymour Fair to sell his ground beef-and-onion meatballs. That's when he had the idea to flatten the meatballs into a patties and put them between two pieces of bread so it would be easier for customers to take the meal with them. And thus, the hamburger was born.

Tasty tales such as that would no doubt delight visitors to a new museum while also connecting them to a story of local history and Wisconsin community pride. 

Øverland followed Collar's ode to "Hamburger Charlie" by offering guests a peek at what they might see inside the new museum, in the form of several early concept exhibit design renderings created by Gallagher & Associates, an internationally known museum exhibit design firm based outside of Washington, D.C. Øverland noted that the renderings are just early ideas at this point, generated early in the concept phase to facilitate discussions such as those taking place at the "Share Your Voice" events.

One of the most popular renderings showed the “Introduction and Orientation Media Experience,” a multi-purpose space with big wall of digital displays that will wow guests and prepare them for their museum visit. The space can also be transformed into an area for public programming, especially for distance learning programs that will connect the museum to people across the state via live streaming video.

“When I go into museums, the first room I go into sets the stage of the rest of the museum,” one guest said. “I think having something like this that’s just spectacular will entice people to want to continue throughout the entire museum.”

Bill Collar agreed.

“I’m a retired history teacher, and I think this is just remarkable,” he said. “What a great asset this would be to kids of all ages.”

There was more debate over a “Laboratory for Democracy” rendering, which depicted an area with a window view of the Capitol across the street. Guests would be able to view the Society’s historic newspaper collection, which is the largest in the United States other than that of the Library of Congress.

One woman felt that studying historic newspapers is a better in-school activity for children.

“I just think that newspapers are so accessible at this point for kids in general,” she explained. Another guest agreed, “I think that this is better accomplished in schools.”

Others were excited by the idea.

“I think the grown-ups will love it though!” a guest said. Another chimed in, “I agree. I think it’s outstanding. It reminds me of the Newseum in Washington.”

“I really like the idea,” a man agreed. “It might be my prejudice — I’m a historian. But this connection to the print culture and these sources of where all the stories come from — I think it’s fantastic.”

Øverland closed the session with gratitude to those who adjusted their morning schedules to share their valuable input.

“We really appreciate your feedback,” he said. “This is the beginning of building our state museum by the people, for the people.”

Suggestions made on Post-It notes during the March 20, 2019 "Share Your Voice" new museum public listening session in Appleton were turned into this word cloud, with the most suggested words in the biggest type.

 

APPLETON "SHARE YOUR VOICE" WORD CLOUD

Suggestions made on Post-It notes during the March 20, 2019 "Share Your Voice" new museum public listening session in Appleton were turned into this word cloud, with the most suggested words in the biggest type.  

Appleton resident Walt Rugland, a member of the Wisconsin Historical Society's Board of Curators and a Wisconsin Historical Foundation Director Emeritus, enjoys a laugh with guests at the "Share Your Voice" new museum listening session in Appleton.


Appleton resident Walt Rugland, right, a member of the Wisconsin Historical Society's Board of Curators and a Wisconsin Historical Foundation Director Emeritus, enjoys a laugh with guests at the Society's March 20, 2019 "Share Your Voice" new museum listening session at The History Museum at the Castle in Appleton.

Wisconsin Historical Society Director Christian Øverland and staff member Katie Shapiro hold up a map of the Capitol Square in Madison, where the new, modern and much larger state history museum would replace the current Wisconsin Historical Museum.

Christian Øverland, the Ruth and Hartley Barker Director of the Wisconsin Historical Society, and Society staff member Katie Shapiro hold up a map of the Capitol Square in Madison, where the new, modern and much larger state history museum would replace the current Wisconsin Historical Museum, which has been housed since the 1980s in the space of a former hardware store on the Square.

Katie Shapiro, the Wisconsin Historical Society's Program and Special Events Coordinator, discusses new museum concept exhibit designs with a guest at the March 13, 2019 "Share Your Voice" listening session in Appleton.


Katie Shapiro, the Wisconsin Historical Society's Program and Special Events Coordinator, discusses new museum concept exhibit designs with a guest at the March 20, 2019 "Share Your Voice" listening session in Appleton.

Jane Lang, Executive Director of the Neenah Historical Society, smiles as a woman at her table comments during a discussion at the Wisconsin Historical Society's "Share Your Voice" new museum listening session on March 13, 2019 in Appleton.

Neenah Historical Society Executive Director Jane Lang, left, smiles as Gwen Sargeant, vice president of the Appleton Historical Society, makes a comment during a discussion at the Wisconsin Historical Society's "Share Your Voice" new museum listening session on March 20, 2019 in Appleton.

A woman shares her thoughts with fellow guests during the March 13, 2019 "Share Your Voice" new museum engagement session in Appleton.

A woman makes her point as guests participate in a lively discussion during the March 20, 2019 "Share Your Voice" new museum listening session at The History Museum at the Castle in Appleton.

A man participates in the discussion during the "Share Your Voice" new museum public engagement session on March 13, 2019 at the History Museum at the Castle in Appleton.

A man participates in the discussion during the "Share Your Voice" new museum session on March 20, 2019 at the History Museum at the Castle in Appleton.

A woman writes down ideas about the Appleton area to be placed onto "What Makes Wisconsin, Wisconsin?" theme boards at the Wisconsin Historical Society's "Share Your Voice" new museum event on March 13, 2019.

A woman writes down ideas about the Appleton area on Post-It notes to be placed onto "What Makes Wisconsin, Wisconsin?" theme boards during the Wisconsin Historical Society's "Share Your Voice" new museum public listening session on March 20, 2019 at The History Museum at the Castle in Appleton.

A woman examines new museum concept exhibit design renderings during the Wisconsin Historical Society's "Share Your Voice" listening session March 13, 2019 at The History Museum at the Castle in Appleton.


A woman examines new museum concept exhibit design renderings during the Wisconsin Historical Society's "Share Your Voice" listening session March 20, 2019 at The History Museum at the Castle in Appleton.

A guest writes down his ideas about the Appleton area to be placed onto "What Makes Wisconsin, Wisconsin?" theme boards at the Wisconsin Historical Society's "Share Your Voice" new museum event on March 13, 2019.

A guest writes down his ideas about the Appleton area on a Post-It note to be placed onto "What Makes Wisconsin, Wisconsin?" theme boards during the Wisconsin Historical Society's "Share Your Voice" new museum listening session on March 20, 2019 at The History Museum at the Castle in Appleton.

Milt Melander of the Appleton Historical Society comments on concept exhibit design renderings during the Wisconsin Historical Society's "Share Your Voice" new museum listening session March 13, 2019 at The Museum at the Castle in Appleton.

Milt Melander of the Appleton Historical Society comments on concept exhibit design renderings during the Wisconsin Historical Society's "Share Your Voice" new museum listening session March 20, 2019 at The Museum at the Castle in Appleton.

A woman shares her thoughts with fellow guests during the March 13, 2019 "Share Your Voice" new museum listening session in Appleton.

Gwen Sargeant, vice president of the Appleton Historical Society, shares her thoughts with fellow guests during the March 20, 2019 "Share Your Voice" new museum listening session in Appleton.

Guests raise their hands in response to a question during the Wisconsin Historical Society's "Share Your Voice" new museum session March 13, 2019 at The Museum at the Castle in Appleton.

Guests raise their hands in response to a question during the Wisconsin Historical Society's "Share Your Voice" new museum session March 20, 2019 at The Museum at the Castle in Appleton.

A guest listens to comments during the Wisconsin Historical Society's "Share Your Voice" new museum listening session March 13, 2019 at The Museum at the Castle in Appleton.

A guest listens to comments during the Wisconsin Historical Society's "Share Your Voice" new museum listening session March 20, 2019 at The Museum at the Castle in Appleton.

Guests talk with each other at the conclusion of the Wisconsin Historical Society's "Share Your Voice" new museum listening session March 13, 2019 at The Museum at the Castle in Appleton.

Guests talk with each other at the conclusion of the Wisconsin Historical Society's "Share Your Voice" new museum listening session March 20, 2019 at The Museum at the Castle in Appleton.

Post-It notes with suggestions from Appleton guests fill three of the "What Makes Wisconsin, Wisconsin?" theme boards at the Wisconsin Historical Society's "Share Your Voice" new museum listening session on March 13, 2019.

Post-It notes with suggestions from Appleton guests fill three of the "What Makes Wisconsin, Wisconsin?" theme boards at the Wisconsin Historical Society's "Share Your Voice" new museum listening session on March 20, 2019.