Neville Public Museum main gallery gets first upgrade in 36 years

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) -- The main gallery on the second floor of the Neville Public Museum closes to the public ahead of a year-long renovation project.

It is the first change to the gallery since the museum moved to its current building on Green Bay's near-west side 36 years ago.

"Public museums don't often get an opportunity to do this, so to have this type of support here in Brown County with the county as well as our private foundation is just absolutely huge," said Beth Lemke, executive director of the Neville Public Museum.

More than 2,000 artifacts from the gallery have already been moved into temporary storage spaces. Not all of them are coming back out -- though museum officials say the favorites, such as the mastodon, are here to stay.

With the artifact cases empty, preparing the city's first wooden hand pumper from 1858 for storage is the last step before the demolition begins.

"Old Crock here is probably second in production -- super unique artifact -- but when they put it into place, they built around it," said Lemke. "So, for its safety, that's why we have to cover it. Then, we'll work on where we can get it into its new placement."

Brown County officials joined museum staff in boarding up the final artifact in the space Tuesday morning.

The renovated gallery will include thematic sections to match the curriculum standards used in local schools and at the state level. Each of those sections feature updated exhibits, modern technology and better flooring to make the gallery more accessible to all.

"One of the assets the Brown County Board of Supervisors chose to invest in is protecting this museum in making sure that we can continue to tell the story of the future, and of course, of the past," said Brown County Executive Troy Streckenbach.

Brown County gifted $1 million to the project from money generated by a half-percent sales tax increase passed by voters in 2017. However, the Neville Public Museum Foundation is asking for more public support to reach a $3 million goal.

"To fund the remainder of this important community project and to help ensure the renovated gallery will stay relevant and will never ever be stagnant again, we are kicking off the 'Expanding Culture and Curiosity' Campaign," said Kasha Huntowski, executive director of the Neville Public Museum Foundation.

"The Neville has preserved the legacy of the past for over 100 years, and we invite you to support the Neville as we look forward to preserving the legacy for the next 100 years and beyond," said Terri Trantow, capital campaign co-chair.

You can learn more about the project and donate to the capital campaign through the Neville Public Museum website.

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