Great War to Great Gatsby


Molly and I had a great Labor Day weekend. We did some of the usual summer rituals. We had friends over for a brat fry, beer, and a campfire to roast s’mores and visit.  It was a great way to celebrate the unofficial end of summer. But a holiday weekend is not complete without learning some history. We paid a visit to the Oshkosh Public Museum to see their current exhibit called, Great War to Great Gatsby: 1914-1929.

We both find this era very intriguing, especially the fashion and entertainment of the 1920s. Both of these topics and more were touched on in the exhibit. Upon stepping into the exhibit, I was amazed to see the local items in its collection connected to this era. Molly even commented, “all of these gowns are in the museum’s collection?” We often learn of all the movements, social norms, and cultural fads on a national level. This exhibit brings that history home.

You will encounter a number of objects with some interesting history behind them. You will learn about Oshkosh suffragette Jessie Jack Hooper and get up close to one of her 1920s outfits.Oshkosh men and women volunteered to serve and defend the United States during the Great War, and their uniforms are displayed. Bathing suits,  kitchen appliances, and homemade moonshine stills, are just a few of the objects on display. All of them having a connection to someone or some event in Oshkosh of that era.

I am always excited to see ways that museums are making exhibits interactive for the audience. There were a few in this exhibit that were fun. You were able to pick up an old telephone and listen to someone telling you a story over the phone. An old radio was set up that allowed guests to press buttons and  hear popular music from that time. Another interactive portion was a wall filled with automobile ads with car features and prices. You wrote which car you preferred, and you could also figure out the 2015 price of that vehicle.

In the end, we both really enjoyed the exhibit. I hope the OPM can put on some more exhibits with objects and stories that coincide with a set time period. I liked learning about the connections to Oshkosh with events like Prohibition, fashion, suffragist movement, and the advancement in technology. Go and see it before it’s gone! The exhibit lasts until October 18.



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