Wisconsin Folk Art: A Sesquicentennial Celebration Project Collection, 1995-1999


“Wisconsin Folk Art: A Sesquicentennial Celebration,” focused on the role of folk art in the lives of Wisconsin residents 150 years after statehood, looking at artistic traditions as a link to ethnic heritage and as an evolving process, adapting to contemporary materials, technologies, influences, and audiences. Janet C. Gilmore (maritime/riverine traditions), James P. Leary (logging), and Ruth Olson (Northwest Wisconsin and ginseng cultivation) performed field research and wrote catalogue essays, while Lewis Koch was the primary photographer. Robert T. Teske, Janet Gilmore, James P. Leary, Thomas Vennum Jr. of the Smithsonian's Center for Folklife Programs, and Richard March of the Wisconsin Arts Board served on the Festival Curatorial Team. Folklorist Anne Pryor documented a number of the artists involved, focusing on children's folklore and religious expressive traditions. Terese Allen examined the state's foodways, Gina Grumke focused on Wisconsin taverns as a cultural and community site, and Peter Roller researched African American musical traditions in southeastern Wisconsin. Judy Benade of the Wisconsin Arts Board, Barbara Lau, and Mai Zong Vue served as consultants and contacts for various folk traditions. Daniel Mayer served as exhibition designer.

The Cedarburg Cultural Center published an accompanying catalogue in conjunction with the Wisconsin Folklife Festival in 1997. After opening at the Cedarburg Cultural Center from December 1997 to March 1998, the exhibition traveled to the Neville Public Museum of Brown County in Green Bay, the State Historical Museum in Madison, and the Chippewa Valley Museum in Eau Claire, its final stop in February 1999. The National Endowment for the Arts, the Wisconsin Sesquicentennial Commission, and the Wisconsin Folklife Festival provided financial support for the exhibition.