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Neville Public Museum shares some of its strangest artifacts from Green Bay's history

Posted at 11:34 PM, Oct 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-27 10:23:59-04

GREEN BAY (NBC 26) — In honor of Halloween, the Neville Public Museum is sharing some of its most morbid artifacts from Green Bay history. The museum’s Morbid Curiosities Program is aimed at showcasing some of the strangest artifacts the museum has collected in the past century.

“We want to do something a little bit different for the Halloween season so we get a bunch of weird stuff the museum has collected over the years," said museum educator Ryan Swadley. "Some of it has to do with death, there are tales of murder, and some of it is just kind of weird and icky.” 

One of the featured items includes early X-ray machines that were previously used at Bellin hospital.

“They work by blasting electricity through a vacuum tube basically," Swadley said. "They realized that it was light that could penetrate some things but not other things so it goes through your skin but not through your bones. So when you take a picture of your shadow, that’s an X-ray.” 

One of the featured items includes early X-ray machines that were previously used at Bellin hospital.

But that’s not the only piece of medical equipment on display. Other items include a "tooth key" which was used by dentists in early days to extract teeth as well as
"We kind of talk about funeral practices over the years and some funeral traditions from the Victorian age," Swadley said. "There’s a lot of weird ones that people like to see.” 

In addition, the museum is also home to several artifacts from Fort Howard, which was built in Green Bay during the War of 1812. 

“There was a lot of murders that happened at the fort because it was rough times back in the early 1800s, a lot of stories of soldiers fighting with each other and ultimately in some cases killing each other,” Swadley said.

The program includes several artifacts from the Manger Casket Company.

This was the program's fifth year, making a comeback after the program was canceled last year due to the pandemic. Swadley says he started the program to give visitors the stories behind some of the museums most unusual pieces.

“We wanted to talk about some of the artifacts that maybe don’t get out on display as much or things that maybe need a little bit more of an explanation and a little bit more backstory for people to understand what they’re all about," Swadley said. " If we put these things out on display, you might see it but for us to tell you the story about it kind of helps bring it to life a little bit more.”

If you’re interested in hearing more stories from Green Bay history, you can visit the museum's website or visit their Youtube page.