PLATTEVILLE — Details are being finalized for the debut of the first North American Manx Museum at UW–Platteville.
The museum, which will be dedicated to showcasing immigrants from the Isle of Man and their descendants in North America, will debut during the 51st Biennial North American Manx Convention at UW–Platteville Aug. 9–12.
The Isle of Man is located in the Irish Sea between Great Britain and Ireland in the British Isles. At 221 square miles, it is less than one-fifth the size of Grant County.
The Honorable Clare Christian, Member of the Legislative Council and the first female president of Tynwald, the Isle of Man’s parliament, will be attending the opening of the museum Saturday, Aug. 11.
Gov. Scott Walker has signed a proclamation noting Aug. 11 as Honorable Clare Christian Day in Wisconsin.
Christian has been a member of both branches of the Manx parliament, serving as a member of the House of Keys from 1980 to 1986 and as a member of the Legislative Council from 1993 to 2011. She has served as the minister for Health and Social Security, the largest department of the Isle of Man government.
Christian follows in the footsteps of her father, Sir Charles Kerruish, the first president of Tynwald. As speaker of the House of Keys, he was afforded the privilege of addressing the U.S. Congress during the bicentennial year.
The Isle of Man boasts the longest continuous democratic government, which is more than 1,000 years old.
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 the Town of Linden in Iowa County, and smaller relief clay sculptures that highlight various Manx themes.
“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.
According to Mary Kelly, Manx liaison and 1964 graduate of UW–Platteville, 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.
“Education has been a priority in Platteville for almost 175 years,” said Shields. “Given the emphasis the Manx placed on education and that the first Manx settlement in southwest Wisconsin was near Mineral Point, 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.”
The convention begins on Thursday with registration at noon. The day will conclude with dinner at 6 p.m. Workshops, guest speakers and tours in Dubuque will be held on Friday.
Events Saturday will be highlighted with a museum ribbon-cutting from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. A dinner will conclude the day at 7 p.m. The convention will close Sunday with local tours.
The convention is held every two years. In 2014 it 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. She is the vice president of the North American Manx Society and will become president of the organization this month.