Works Progress Administration Handicraft Collection

The Works Progress Administration (WPA) was a part of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal that lasted from 1935-1942. In Milwaukee, the WPA had a division that provided work for women and African Americans. This was an integrated project, a rarity at the time. Workers began with simple handicrafts, like scrapbooks, but as their skills developed, they began to make more complex crafts such as dolls (like the Honey Chile doll depicted here), rugs and furniture.

Japanese Friendship Doll

In 1926, Dr. Sidney Gullick, a missionary and educator who had lived and worked in Japan since the 1890s, created an exchange program between the United States and Japan to promote peace, friendship and understanding. Children in almost every state raised money to send American dolls to many schools in Japan. Once the Japanese children received the dolls, they in turn raised money and sent dolls back to the United States.

I.A. Dinerstein Enamels Collection

These enamels were a bequest to the Milwaukee Public Museum from Isadore A. Dinerstein, a local Russian immigrant, upon his death. The collection includes many decorative art pieces, and most notably 70 enameled objects. The enamels range in date from the 16th through 20th centuries, and come from France, Belgium, Russia, Turkey, Germany, Hungary, Austria, Japan, and America. All the enamels show vibrant colors, intricate designs, and incredible detail.

Birdwing Butterflies

Birdwing butterflies, genus Ornithoptera, are named "Birdwing" for their tremendous wingspan and body size. Native to the Indo-Australian region, there are about a dozen currently recognized species plus many subspecies and forms. The museum acquired a number of representative specimens through a donation from James R. Neidhoefer and his wife, Elaine, who amassed a large collection of worldwide Lepidoptera mostly through purchases and exchanges.

The DeFlores Disney Collection

With 1500 pieces, the DeFlores Disney collection is one of the largest in a U.S. museum. The objects were collected by Lupe DeFlores and her son Cesar over a 25 year period from 1965 to the late 1980s, and include rare Disney memorabilia that shows the evolution of many of the best-known characters like Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse. The collection includes a range of items such as plates, figurines, games, lunch boxes, pails, Christmas ornaments, mugs, cookie jars, and watches.

Deakin's Lilliputian Comic Opera Items

This collection is comprised of a scrapbook and a complete female little person's outfit associated with Deakin's Lilliputian Comic Opera Company (DLCOC ). These artifacts date to the early 1880s during the company's production of Jack the Giant Killer, a play that featured little people as regular sized people, and a tall man as a giant. The show was quite successful with high society and toured through the United States and Canada. DLCOC performed in dime theatres in the Milwaukee area.

Bing and Grondahl Christmas Plate Collection

The Danish firm of Bing and Grondahl manufactured their first Christmas plate in 1895. The Christmas plates are intricately designed to reflect an old Danish tradition. Hundreds of years ago, Danish masters would give their servants well designed Christmas plates and servants would have a competition to try and determine whose master had awarded them with the best plate. Today, Bing and Grondahl have kept the Christmas Plate tradition alive by producing a collectible ceramic plate each year at Christmas.

Apache Playing Cards

These playing cards are from the Apache, an American Indian tribe living in Arizona. Apache playing cards are thought to be influenced by the Spanish, however, the cards' decorations are distinctly of the traditional Apache artistic style. Made of rawhide and decorated with a variety of pictorial designs, the cards represent numbers or face card values. Playing cards had widespread use by the Apache during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and were even traded for by non-Apache groups. There are not many complete card sets, such as this one, that exist today.

Hebior Mammoth

The Hebior Mammoth is the most complete mammoth ever found in North America with 85% of the bones recovered. Excavated in Kenosha County in the mid 1990s on the farm of John Hebior, the mammoth found with stone tools and butchering marks, has been radiocarbon dated to about 14,500 years ago. The Hebior Mammoth is one of the earliest pieces of evidence of human occupation in North America, predating the Clovis culture by more than a thousand years. The Milwaukee Public Museum purchased the mammoth skeleton thanks to the generous support of local donors John Brander and Christine Rundblad.