Creating Old World Wisconsin
The Struggle to Build an Outdoor History Museum of Ethnic Architecture
Publication Year: 2013
Published by: University of Wisconsin Press
Series: Wisconsin Land and Life
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Title Page, Copyright
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Writing a book is a collective effort. Recognizing those who provided critical assistance is both exhilarating and humbling. Marty Perkins, the curator of research at Old World Wisconsin, sat for numerous interviews, searched relentlessly for documents and photographs, never balked at my numerous requests for information, and served as my ultimate fact checker. ...
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This is the story of a few individuals who struggled to fulfill a vision. The Wisconsin vision entailed salvaging fast disappearing artifacts by relocating them to a protected environment. Nothing surprising, except that in this case the artifacts were houses, shops, barns, and a variety of outbuildings. ...
Chapter One. Visionaries
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Several inspirations affected the creation of state-funded museums in the United States. The great outdoor history museums of the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s, funded by private philanthropists, influenced state-sponsored museums. ...
Chapter Two. Managers
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Lexicographer Dr. Samuel Johnson (1709–84) once remarked: “Great works are performed not by strength but by perseverance.” As will be demonstrated, perseverance was the key weapon in the Society’s arsenal. ...
Chapter Three. Master Planners
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As the acquisition of the site bogged down in protracted negotiations, Fishel moved to accomplish another major incremental goal. He knew the vision had to be transformed into a plan that would guide the acquisition and relocation of buildings on the anticipated site. ...
Chapter Four. Conflict Management
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The battle of Eagle took Society leaders by surprise. After the protracted struggle with the DNR to secure a lease for the state forest, they never imagined that an even more intense conflict awaited them. Fishel knew that implementation of the Perrin vision might face obstacles, and for that reason he moved slowly on the outdoor museum project. ...
Chapter Five. Fund-Raisers
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If one phrase can capture the Society’s struggles, it is Mark Twain’s twist on a biblical concept: “The lack of money is the root of all evil.” A lack of money thwarted the Society’s efforts to build the museum in a number of ways. If, for example, the Society could have purchased its 500 acres in the mid-1960s, creation of the site would have taken a very different course. ...
Chapter Six. Builders
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To this point, the story has concentrated on the Society, the proposal for a site to relocate salvaged buildings, writing a master plan, acquisition of the site, legal entanglements with the Town of Eagle, and fund-raising. This chapter shifts the story to the construction of the site and its exhibits. ...
Chapter Seven. Toward an Insecure Future
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Scientist Niels Bohr once observed, “Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future.” No one claimed creating a museum would be easy. But then, no one foresaw the incredible struggles that the Society would encounter. By October 1975 the Society had confronted many of these challenges. ...
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In his analysis of American outdoor museums and living history sites, Sten Rentzhog concentrated his analysis on Vesterheim (a Norwegian American Museum in Decorah, Iowa), Greenfield Village, Colonial Williamsburg, Old Sturbridge Village, the Farmer’s Museum in Cooperstown, ...
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Page Count: 224
Illustrations: 36 b/w photos
Publication Year: 2013
Series Title: Wisconsin Land and Life