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‘Savage Ancient Seas’ arrives at the Neville Public Museum

By Donna Schuld

GREEN BAY – Take a trip up to the second story of the Neville Public Museum and you’ll step into a fossil menagerie of some of the fiercest marine creatures to ever inhabit the earth.

“Savage Ancient Seas” is the museum’s new exhibit, boasting more than 20 fossil casts suspended from the ceiling, along with actual fossil specimens that can be touched, and a wealth of instructive material.

Beth Kowalski-Lemke, executive director of the Neville Public Museum said she’s a fan of these ancient sea monsters.

“We know that our visitors to the museum absolutely love dinosaurs and different time periods of dinosaurs,” Kowalski-Lemke said. “I believe I found this exhibit online when I was doing a search in 2019. We started working with the developer bringing it here in early 2020.”

She said for those interested in dinosaurs and fossils, “Savage Ancient Seas” opens a door to an interesting world above and beneath the waves.

“This exhibit is important because it’s never been able to travel to the Midwest before, it’s never been in the state of Wisconsin,” Kowalski-Lemke said. “And it really is looking at the late Cretaceous period, so it’s a very specific time period. And it’s really focused on the marine fossil world. We’ve got marine reptiles and the most amazing sea turtle that ever lived on display. It’s never been displayed before anywhere in the Midwest.”

The fossils in this exhibit were found all over the globe.

Some skeletons feature spines that run impossibly long, while others open their menacing jaws wide as if to catch their dinner.

“I am a huge fan of the megalodon jaw, which is amazing in size,” she said.

Indeed, the signage next to this shark-like maw encourages people to step inside for a unique photo op.

The Neville is well-suited for an exhibit with hanging artifacts.

“The most exciting thing to me in our gallery spaces we have a lot of vertical height, and in this case, everything is supported by the light grid,” Kowalski-Lemke said. “We’re very fortunate here at the Neville that we can do something like that. Not every cultural institution has that ability to really utilize the ceiling height. When you walk in, the Pteranodon are suspended from the ceiling, and you can see exactly how they would be from underneath. The other specimens, it’s the same; walking underneath them and you can see their height and length how their tails would have helped them swim, how their fins would have helped them navigate.”

It takes a lot of work to turn an empty gallery into a functioning exhibit, but she said her team at the museum all pitched in.

“Then the traveling exhibition company had three staff members that helped, and it was all-hands-on-deck from our side getting it installed,” Kowalski-Lemke said. “We’re super excited.”

“Savage Ancient Seas” will be at the Neville Public Museum through Aug. 22.

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