Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Manx museum to debut on campus



From the University of Wisconsin-Platteville
PLATTEVILLE, Wis. — The University of Wisconsin-Platteville will soon unveil the first North American Manx Museum, which will be dedicated to showcasing the immigrants from the Isle of Man and their descendants in North America.
The debut of the museum will be held during the 51st Biennial North American Manx Convention Aug. 9-12 at UW-Platteville.
The Isle of Man is located in the Irish Sea between Great Britain and Ireland in the British Isles.
Some of the museum’s features will include an area for visitors to watch videos about the Isle of Man and read an electronic version of the “Chronicles of Mann;” an entrance based on the Peel Castle on the Isle of Man, a clay sculpture of the Manx Laxey Church in Linden Township in Iowa County, Wis. and smaller relief clay sculptures that highlight various Manx themes and more.
“The museum will have its own special place within our archives and will enable people of all ages and backgrounds the opportunity to explore the history of the interesting and unique Manx culture for their learning and enjoyment as well as provide a heightened understanding and appreciation of the Manx heritage,” said UW-Platteville Chancellor Dennis J. Shields.
Mary F. Kelly of Platteville, a Manx descendent and a 1974 UW-Platteville graduate, first proposed the idea of incorporating items about Manx immigrants and their history connected to Southwest Wisconsin.
The first meeting was held Nov. 1, 2004 to form a museum committee. The topics discussed included the proposed museum to be located in the Luce Center in Ullsvik Hall, fund raising and the mission/content of the museum.
At a later meeting, topics considered for inclusion in the museum were the early settlement of people from the Isle of Man as evidenced by the location of the nearby Laxey Cemetery. The group discussed the proximity of the first settlement of Manx pioneers in Wisconsin to Platteville, which was 25 miles. “We compared the skills those early immigrants brought in the 1840s from their tiny homeland: mining, engineering, farming, etc. to the mission of the university,” said Kelly.
“Education has been a priority in Platteville for almost 175 years,” said Chancellor Shields. “Given the emphasis the Manx placed on education and that the first Manx settlement in Southwest Wisconsin was near Mineral Point, Wis. some of the first students who attended the Platteville Academy and its successor, the Platteville State Normal School, were surely Manx immigrants and their descendants. This historical connection between the Manx and UW-Platteville led to the creation of the North American Manx Museum in Ullsvik Hall.”
Kelly has visited the Isle of Man several times, the first time as a tourist in 1973. She was the chair of the 1996 convention and has met several Isle of Man dignitaries over the years.
According to Kelly, the donations of $100,000 and valuable artifacts from Robert Kelly, honorary president of the North American Manx Association, has secured a university commitment for a permanent 400-square-foot Manx display area in the museum and it has helped to anchor an important archival Manx collection. Other substantial contributions have come from the Isle of Man government, Manx National Heritage, Wisconsin Manx Society, Greater Washington Area Manx Society, Minnesota Manx Society, the T.R. and LaJean Anderson Library and numerous individuals.
The Southwest Wisconsin Room in Ullsvik Hall will contain Manx related books and genealogy resources.
“We now have the most important collection of books and documents about the Isle of Man on this continent,” said Kelly.
Kelly is expecting approximately 100 people to attend the convention. The president of Tynwald, Hon. Clare Christian, of the Isle of Man will be in attendance at the dedication of the new Manx museum and announcements will go out to Manx societies in nine countries on four continents.
The convention is held every two years. The 2014 convention will be held on the Isle of Man, with the 2016 convention in Washington, D.C. Joanne Morey of Mount Horeb is serving as chairperson of this year’s convention. Morey, a 1992 UW-Platteville graduate, is currently the vice president of the North American Manx Society. She will become president of the organization in August.
Contact: James Hibbard, Archivist, UW-Platteville Southwest Wisconsin Room, (608) 342-1719, hibbardj@uwplatt.edu
Written by: Dan Wackershauser, UW-Platteville University Information and Communications, (608) 342-1194, wackersd@uwplatt.edu

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