The Oshkosh Public Museum is a general-interest historical and natural history museum that occupies the former Edward P. Sawyer mansion. This beautiful and historic home has had a modern wing added on that houses about half of the exhibits. The house, built in the early 1900’s, is worth seeing just for itself, and provides a perfect setting for the neo-Victorian Steampunk exhibit.
The exhibit itself occupies several adjoining rooms on the second floor, and is very well laid out. One of the best things about the exhibit overall is the comparison between Steampunk fashion and tech and the actual period styles and devices. For example, the clothing portion started at one end with genuine period outfits drawn from the museum’s collection, and phased over to the more outré Steampunk styles. A display case holding elaborate Steampunk helmets and hats faced one containing late 19th century military helmets. An exhibit of “ray guns” sits next to one of authentic weaponry of the era.
The curators drew pieces from all over the country, including the South and Southwest, and from professional artists as well as hobbyists, the latter including a collection of rocket packs on loan from the “crew” of Southeast Wisconsin’s “Airship Fortuna.”
Other notable items on display included a Steampunk dollhouse, and a Steampunk conception of a “Mars Rover” robot. Also on hand were some artifacts from TV and motion pictures: “Uncle Irwin” an elaborate brain-in-a-jar prop from “The City of Lost Children,” and a set of prop and setting diagrams from “The Further Adventures of Jules Verne.”
The Steampunk exhibits are immediately adjacent to exhibits on the American Civil War, frontier life in Wisconsin, and the lives of immigrants in the 19th Century, so lots of other things of interest as well although not part of the featured exhibit. The exhibition continues through September 8th.
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