The Holiday Memories exhibit is on display from December 2nd through January 22, 2006. It features the complete, restored sets of animated figures from the Snow Babies and Dolls of Christmas Past sets once used in the H. C. Prange Department Store Christmas windows, plus the addition of about 30 mechanical animals, also once used in the Prange's displays.
The animals were purchased earlier this year by the Neville Public Museum Corporation. These farm and forest animal friends, all clad in their Holiday finery, will come to life along with the Snow Babies and Dolls of Christmas Past along the pathway through the imaginary magic of the Enchanted Forest. At the end of their journey, visitors will come upon what else? Santa's own chair, c. 1970, also once part of Prange's Christmas display.
Almost everyone who grew up in Northeastern Wisconsin has fond memories of the wondrous Christmas display windows and everyone is invited to share their family recollections about going downtown to see the annual Prange's displays by writing them down in a memory book within the exhibit. The Museum bought the Snow Babies and Dolls of Christmas Past in 2003. They, like the recently purchased animal figures, were cleaned and restored by Sowatzka's Dolls in Lake Tomahawk, Wisconsin.
Manufactured in 1973, the Snow Babies were displayed at Prange's stores in Green Bay, Sturgeon Bay, and Sheboygan throughout the 1970s. These jolly, cherubic figures, most of which are mechanical, sled, see-saw, ski, and whirl & twirl with glee on an ice skating pond. Once stored in a coal bin, the entire set was in dire need of a major cleaning. They are now once again in pristine condition.
The larger set of Dolls of Christmas Past was featured in the December 1961 issue of Better Homes and Gardens. Made in 1961, it consists of dolls representing different historical eras. This set of over 40 figures (including furniture, dogs, and cats) was originally made by Silvestri's Art Company for Chicago's Marshall Field's store. Prange's purchased the set from Field's after it was retired. The figures, also mostly mechanical, bake cookies, set the table, and perform other simple activities common in households during the Holidays. The Dolls were also rotated between Prange's stores in Wisconsin.
The animals - geese, chicks, deer, raccoons, rabbits, dogs, goats, and more- were used in a number of different Prange's displays throughout the years; they do not represent a single set with a unified theme. Most are also mechanical, and are whimsical, delightful additions to the exhibit.