In Tune With Tradition: Wisconsin Folk Musical Instruments Project Collection, circa 1986-1992

Project History

The Cedarburg Cultural Center received funding from the Folk Arts Program of the National Endowment for the Arts and the Wisconsin Arts Board for the development of an exhibition relating to Wisconsin musical traditions: “In Tune With Tradition: Wisconsin Folk Musical Instruments” (1990-1991) focused on two dozen Wisconsin folk musical instruments, their makers, and the represented ethnic and musical traditions (e.g., lumberjack, Woodland Indian, Norwegian, Puerto Rican, Hmong). Fieldwork with folk musical instrument makers conducted by folklorist James P. Leary and photographer Lewis Koch resulted in a research essay and photographic images that were used in the exhibition and in the exhibition catalogue. Thomas Vennum Jr. of the Smithsonian Institution, Nancy Lurie of the Milwaukee Public Museum, and Cecil Negron of the Social Development Commission in Milwaukee acted as advisers to the project, as did staff at institutions including the State Historical Museum and the State Historical Society in Madison, the Milwaukee Public Museum, the Wisconsin Folk Museum (Mount Horeb, Wisconsin), the Rusk County Historical Society (Ladysmith, Wisconsin), and Vesterheim (Decorah, Iowa). These institutions also loaned objects and photographs for the exhibit.

Cedarburg Cultural Center director Robert T. Teske developed the exhibit and oversaw its implementation, as well as exhibit-related events, school tours, and a concert series. After opening in Cedarburg in Spring 1990, the exhibit traveled to the Wriston Art Center at Lawrence University in Appleton, the Wisconsin State Historical Museum in Madison, New Visions Gallery in Marshfield, and finally to the Chippewa Valley Museum in Eau Claire, where it ended its tour at the end of October 1991.