GREEN BAY (NBC 26) — The Neville Public Museum is preserving the Christmas magic of a department store that used to be a staple of downtown Green Bay. The Holiday Memories exhibit preserves artifacts from the H.C Prange's store that was once a landmark of the downtown district, especially around the holidays.
“During the 1920s and really up through the 1990s, the H.C Prange's department store was the place to go shopping for the holidays," said deputy director Kevin Cullen. "Many generations of people have memories of going there and shopping so it became part of the culture of our region.”
The main feature of the exhibit is the dolls that once decorated the store’s windows. Cullen says the museum first acquired the dolls in the early 2000s.
“You’ll see that some of them may not move as they used to on Washington Street," Cullen said. "What we’re trying to do is actually do right by the collection and preserve it. By doing that we actually have a conservator who is working with us to restore each doll one at a time.”
The exhibit also features other Prange’s trademarks like talking Christmas tree 'Bruce the Spruce' and the Children’s Only Shop.
“Those that went to Prange's may remember the part of the store that you go to where only kids could go and shop," Cullen said. "So with that helper elf in the store with the children, parents can go in and let them pick out something for a family member.”
An annual exhibit that has been a part of the museum for over 15 years, Holiday Memories passes down Christmas memories from generation to generation. For many, the store’s displays bring back childhood memories of an annual holiday tradition.
"I couldn’t wait to see the same display that I used to crawl into when my mom would go shopping," said West Bend resident Debrah Schaub. "It still looks good. I think I can still crawl over the fence.”
Cullen says reliving those memories are the museum’s magic moments.
“It makes the work worth it," Cullen said. "When you have a real life experience with somebody who shares a memory, an intimate memory of when they were a child, in that space that we’re recreating, we’ve done our job.”
To learn more about the exhibit's dates and times, visit nevillepublicmuseum.org.