Making Merry at the Museum


Just in time to collect ideas for your after-Thanksgiving holiday decorating, the Oshkosh Public Museum will host its second annual Deck the Halls exhibition, which will run from November 23, 2014 through January 11, 2015. Visitors are invited to stroll through the halls of the historic Sawyer home to view the beautiful recreated Victorian holiday decorations. Each room will be decorated to represent a different decade – from the 1880s to the 1910s – and the life-size Christmas Village display will showcase an eclectic blend of miniature villages, from homemade treasures to stunning collectibles, on loan from community members.

Karla Szekeres, Marketing & Membership Coordinator for the Museum, described a special part of the exhibit: “The centerpiece of the temporary exhibition gallery will be filled with an elaborate wooden toy circus, a recent donation from Karl and Olga Magnusen. This wonderful hand-crafted treasure was the creation of Karl’s father, Marshall Magnusen, in the 1940s. The family traveled throughout Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Florida to display their beloved circus in many public venues.”

Besides an opportunity to look at holiday heirlooms from days gone by, there is also enjoyment for all ages in the here and now. Not to be forgotten are those mischievous Museum elves, who will be hiding in the least expected locations around the beautiful Sawyer home. Families will enjoy searching for them in the popular Museum Scavenger Hunt. Or visitors can add more fun to their day with a special make-and-take project in the new Making History Fun! D-I-Y area.

This year, the Museum will also be raffling off three mini-villages, which were donated by Thomas and Mary Olkiewicz and are on display during the holiday exhibit. For many years, their family and friends experienced the magic of these villages in the Olkiewicz home. Now, through the family’s generosity, not only can you win one of the treasured villages, but you will also help support the Museum. Tickets for the 2014 Christmas Village Raffle can be purchased in person at the Museum Store for $1 each or six raffle tickets for $5.

StateofArt2Visitors can also give to local charities by voting in the annual Get Polarized light pole decorating contest. The Museum will be continuing this community-driven holiday giving tradition by inviting local service groups to compete in decorating the 16 old-fashioned light poles on the grounds. New and improved methods have been adopted to help each group raise awareness of their organization, be more visible to voters and add fun to the event. Visitors can vote for their favorite light pole by making a contribution in person at the Museum Store or online through Each service group will keep the amount donated on behalf of their light pole, and the service group to collect the largest amount will also win a matching donation of up to $300 provided by Chief Chip Cyber Crime Intervention.

Another way to join in the spirit of giving this season is by bringing a donation to the Museum for Bare Essentials, a program that collects new socks and underwear for St. Vincent de Paul to give to people in need. Or you may wish to donate peanut butter, tuna, toilet paper, toothpaste, and other toiletries for the Oshkosh Area Food Pantry.

In staying true to its mission, the Museum will also be giving back this holiday season by offering free admission to all kids under 18, and adult admission will be only $3.50 throughout the month of December. Once again, the holiday season is fast approaching, and the Museum elves have been busy making this year’s annual holiday event even more incredible.

The Oshkosh Public Museum, located at 1331 Algoma Boulevard, is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00am to 4:30pm and Sunday from 1:00 to 4:30pm. For more information about the Museum’s other programming and exciting exhibits, visit the Museum’s website (, call 920-236-5799 or email

And after the holidays are over, make sure to keep a lookout on the Museum’s website for more info on an exciting exhibit coming February 28, 2015 – The Art of the Brick® – featuring amazing, large-scale sculptures created entirely of LEGO® bricks by New York-based artist, Nathan Sawaya.

Erin Heiling studied art at Indiana University and stays involved through photography, design and writing.

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