Oshkosh Public Museum unveils exhibits


Willem Flaugher / Advance-Titan “This is Winnebagoland” and “A Woman Who Can” are open at the Oshkosh Public Museum and showcase different aspects of Wisconsin culture.

Payton Murphy, Writer

The beloved Oshkosh Public Museum has recently added two new exhibitions to their ever-growing collection of local historical artifacts. The exhibits, a long-term exhibition named “This is Winnebagoland” and a special, short-term exhibition titled “A Woman Who Can” have recently garnered public attention for their innovation, nuance and celebration of local achievement. 

Emily Rock, the curator of exhibitions for the Oshkosh Public Museum, said that these new collections are the beginning of a new era for the institution.

“This is Winnebagoland” is a new long-term exhibition opened to the public on April 1 and focuses on the Lake Winnebago region’s previous identity as “Winnebagoland,” a vacation hotspot for outdoor recreational activities. 

A main focus of the exhibition is to show how sports and other activities can make one feel connected to their community. 

According to Rock, most of the artifacts originate from somewhere between the late 1800s and the 1930s and showcase the region’s involvement with year-round outdoor activities and team sports, most notably bowling and its significance to Wisconsin culture. 

According to Rock, this exhibition has been in the works for a long time. The exhibit team behind “This is Winnebagoland,” made up of Rock,  Assistant Director and Chief Curator Anna Cannizzo, Exhibit Technician Greg Witthun, Registar Emma Eisner, Archivist Amy Fels and other staff at the Oshkosh Public Museum have been working tirelessly since 2019 to create “This is Winnebagoland,” which was planned to be the first of many new exhibits to mark a new era for the institution. 

The team behind the creation of this exhibit originally planned to have the exhibition completed by 2021, but due to the impact of COVID-19, work on the exhibit was halted. 

“This is Winnebagoland” houses many interesting historical artifacts, all of which belong to the Oshkosh Public Museum. Some notable objects in the collection include an arrangement of wooden, hand-carved ice fishing decoys displayed in a way to make it appear as if they are floating. The exhibit is interactive as well, being home to a vintage bowling arcade game that can be played by museum attendees. 

Willem Flaugher / Advance-Titan

“I think it’s important because sports and leisure are one way to view the community,” Rock said. “Sports really touch a lot of people’s lives and knowing the history of sports and the community is interesting.”

The second exhibit being unveiled by the Oshkosh Public Museum, “A Woman Who Can,” celebrates Wisconsin local and Miss America titleholder, Grace Stanke. 

The special exhibit, created in partnership with the Miss Wisconsin Organization, was opened to the public on Feb. 19 and will remain at the Oshkosh Public Museum until July 31. 

As well as celebrating Oshkosh’s 60th anniversary of hosting the Miss Wisconsin competition, the exhibition also focuses on 

Stanke and her platform and the connection of the Miss America competition to the Oshkosh area. Stanke uses her platform to advocate for clean energy and for women in typically male-dominated fields such as science and technology. She is especially passionate about these topics, given that outside of her life as 2023’s Miss America, she is a nuclear engineer and alumna of UW-Madison. 

The exhibit houses many significant items to the story of Stanke and her journey earning the Miss America title. Some of these items include the dress that Stanke was wearing when she won the title of Miss Wisconsin and the dress that she was wearing when she won the title of Miss America. 

The Oshkosh Public Museum is located at 1331 Algoma Blvd. Oshkosh and is open from 10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 1 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. on Sundays. General admission is $8 for adults but $6 for college students with a valid ID. To learn more, visit oshkoshmuseum.org