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You are here: Grant supports History Museum exhibition

The David L. and Rita E. Nelson Family Fund within the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region has awarded a grant of $600,000 to Appleton’s History Museum at the Castle to support the new You Are Here exhibition.

The grant will help fund the new core exhibit dedicated to telling the history of the Fox River Valley. The exhibition will cover approximately 3,100 square feet in the History Museum’s lower level and feature four thematic areas: Our Fox River Valley Home, Peoples of the Fox River Valley, Industry and Our Environment, and Our Cultural Values. You Are Here will greatly enhance the History Museum’s ability to inspire and educate the public.

“This permanent exhibition will tell a comprehensive history of the landscape, peoples and cultures that have defined the Fox Valley over hundreds of years. There is no other exhibition in the Fox Cities like it,” says Executive Director Matt Carpenter.

The late Rita and David Nelson arranged for an estate gift of more than $100 million to a donor advised fund at the Community Foundation.

The conceptualization and schematic design of You Are Here began last fall thanks to financial support from the David L. and Rita E. Nelson Family Fund within the Community Foundation and Outagamie County. The History Museum’s staff is developing the exhibition’s historical content, and Split Rock Studies, an exhibit design and fabrication firm based in St. Paul, Minn., is developing plans and will construct the exhibition. Each portion of the exhibit will feature accessible text, welcoming graphics, and engaging interactives designed to invite visitors of all ages and interest levels to explore the Fox Valley history and consider its future.

“The Nelsons had a passion for history and historic preservation, and their charitable endowment will always support the important exhibitions in museums and historical societies in the Fox Cities and Green Bay areas. You Are Here is the story of our region, and we have great confidence in the History Museum to deliver an unforgettable exhibit” says Curt Detjen, President and CEO of the Community Foundation. “The Fund is a catalyst to help with exciting opportunities like this one, and as a permanent endowment it will be here to support an exciting future in our region, forever. The Nelsons continue to help their communities flourish.”

With the $600,000 grant from the David L. and Rita E. Nelson Family Fund, the $1.3 million dollar project will move forward with several rounds of planning before construction gets underway. You Are Here has also received financial backing from the Doug and Carla Salmon Foundation, Outagamie County, the John S. and Ann P. Kloehn Fund, and the John Bradley Fund.

“We are incredibly grateful to the David L. and Rita E. Nelson Family Fund and all of the donors who have contributed to this point,” Carpenter says, “and we will continue to seek additional funding on the national, state, and local level.”

Barring any unforeseen delays, the History Museum plans to unveil You Are Here in the summer of 2022 to coincide with the Museum’s 150th anniversary.

Who were the Nelsons? Learn more about the David L. and Rita E. Nelson Family Fund and find out more about this couple here.

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