For the last two years, the Oshkosh (Wisconsin) Public Museum has been researching and developing a new long-term exhibition called People of the Waters that will enable visitors to discover the region’s rich Native American heritage. The story will be presented in a compelling, state-of-the-art format starting in mid-2017.
The total cost for People of the Waters is $750,000 and the museum has about 75% of the necessary funding to complete the project. Community financial support is needed to reach the final goal to make the new People of the Waters permanent exhibit a reality.
People of the Waters is a full gallery refit, meaning the existing exhibition, Wetlands & Waterways, will be removed from wall to wall. Creating a vibrant sense of place that brings the past to life through pioneering techniques, the new exhibit ties directly to the educational goals of Wisconsin Act 31, and it focuses on curriculum points for 4th grade study of the Ice Age and Native American cultures. Storylines within the exhibit will be broken down into four key areas:
• Journey Through Time: View mammal remains from the Pleistocene Era, when great animals walked the earth; see the sweep of how huge ice sheets changed the land from prehistoric times to today’s landscape. A 40-foot-long glass wall showcases artifacts representing the cultural history from about 12,000 years ago up to the 1850s.
• Early People: Walk inside a recreated Oneota longhouse to learn about the major cultures of Native settlement in this area, uncover the past in an archaeological dig site and discover daily activities in Native villages in the natural resource display.
• Travel and Trade: Explore how materials and goods from around the world made their way to Oshkosh and discover the history of tribal and European trade, dating back thousands of years.
• Living Cultures: The content is brought into a more recent period, exploring groups like the Oneota, who lived here between 1000 and 1670 and gave rise to modern tribes.
People of the Waters is expected to become an anchor point exhibition for the Fox-Wisconsin Heritage Parkway, and it will be a primary resource for teachers and students from throughout the region.