New Major Exhibit now open!

Posted: November 10, 2014

The Chippewa Valley Museum in Eau Claire's Carson Park just opened a new major exhibit, called Changing Currents: Reinventing the Chippewa Valley.

Imagine yourself on a river through time, stopping off at specific moments in history where different historical currents intersected, and where different people interacted. At each stopping place on your journey, explore the events and meet the people who changed the course of Chippewa Valley history.

Covering more than 350 years of Chippewa Valley history, Changing Currents brings visitors face to face with all sorts of interesting people from the past and present, among them fur trader Jean Baptiste Perrault, lumberjack Even Ivorson, KKK-fighting German-Catholic priest Peter Minwegen, and Hmong refugee and craftswoman Mai Xee Xiong. "The exhibit shows that our communities have always been changing and developing as new people arrive," explained Curator Carrie Ronnander.

The exhibit is full of fun activities, too. Visitors can step inside an Ojibwe wigwam, pull the whistle on a mock steamship, and walk through the squeaky door of a 1950s vacation cabin. Rich in historical artifacts from the region, visitors can also come face to face with a birch bark canoe, a big lumber mill saw, a Model A on its way to the north woods, and London Square Mall's iconic "Little Ben" clock tower.

By introducing visitors to real historical Chippewa Valley people and setting them in colorful historic scenes, the exhibit opens up local history to everyone. "We hope to show that history is not just made somewhere else, but is made every day right here in the Chippewa Valley," said Ronnander.

The Grand Opening will take place Sunday, December 7, from 1pm to 5pm, and will feature a wide range of additional activities included with regular admission. Visitors can sing steamboat songs and learn lumberjack lingo. They can meet voyageur re-enactors, wool spinners, an Ojibwe artist and trapper, Hmong textile artists, and a skilled fly fisherman who will demonstrate fly tying. Museum staff researched the stories of real Chippewa Valleyans for the exhibit, and visitors will also be able to learn more about conducting similar family history research.

"Changing Currents has been a big project, but it has been a lot of fun to work on for both staff and volunteers over the past nine years," said Ronnander. "We are excited to share it with our community."

The Chippewa Valley Museum is a regional history museum located in Eau Claire's scenic Carson Park. The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday from 1 to 5 pm, with late hours Tuesday evenings until 8 pm, and early hours starting at 10 am on Saturdays. Admission is $5 for adults and $2 for children ages 5-17. Museum members and children under 5 are free. Admission is always free Tuesday evenings from 5 to 8 pm. Visit for more information.


Changing Currents: Reinventing the Chippewa Valley has been made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this exhibition do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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This project was also made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), grant number MA-04-12-0089. The IMLS is the primary source of federal support for the nation's 123,000 libraries and 35,000 museums. Our mission is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. Our grant making, policy development, and research help libraries and museums deliver valuable services that make it possible for communities and individuals to thrive. To learn more, visit and follow IMLS on Facebook and Twitter.


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