People of the Waters Wins Award of Merit

Oshkosh Public Museum’s People of the Waters Exhibition Wins 2018 AASLH Award of Merit

The American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) proudly announces that the Oshkosh Public Museum is the recipient of an Award of Merit for the People of the Waters exhibition. The AASLH Leadership in History Awards, now in its 73rd year, is the most prestigious recognition for achievement in the preservation and interpretation of state and local history.

People of the Waters explores prehistoric and early life in this region that spans 13,000 years. The key storyline and interpretive elements of this new immersive, permanent exhibition focuses primarily on the study of the Ice Age, Native American cultures, and the impact of the Fur Trade. “People of the Waters is a huge draw to all K-12 students, educators and researchers,” said Brad Larson, Museum Director. “Essentially, this innovative exhibition will appeal to anyone who is interested in discovering more about the region’s cultural history and understanding how past events shape our lives.”

Major exhibitions like People of the Waters are evaluated by several committees of professionals using many criteria, and they are judged against similar projects submitted by museums across the nation in these areas: Does the exhibition show innovation? Is the design compelling and the content accurate and factual? Does it enhance education? Did the project involve the community and various or key stakeholders? The assessment is designed to be thorough and analytical to ensure that only the preeminent exhibitions and museum projects are acknowledged.

People of the Waters came about as a result of the Museum’s and City’s strategic planning process. The decision to create the exhibition was strongly based on input and ideas received from citizens and local teachers. Four years in the making, design and interpretive techniques and fabrication were done by Split Rock Studios. Based on the most recent research, People of the Waters features interactive media kiosks, a full-sized longhouse, web-based interactive game on the fur trade, a walk-over archaeological excavation, over 1,000 artifacts from the Museum’s extensive collection, and more.

The Oshkosh Public Museum provides enriching field trip opportunities that align with and enhance classroom instruction. To learn more about the wealth of artifacts that make up this incredible exhibition, explore the Virtual Exhibition at Also available for download is a curriculum offering complete lesson plans for all grade levels, in addition to the Trap and Trade game that gives players a first-hand experience on how trading occurred.

The Award of Merit is certainly a remarkable achievement. However, any time a public institution is recognized at the national level, it is also a point of pride for the community as a whole. Being praised in this manner helps demonstrate that Oshkosh is a progressive community with a high quality of life, one that embraces culture, heritage, and the arts. Residents can be assured that the Oshkosh Public Museum is professionally run and exemplifies the highest standards.

This year, AASLH is proud to confer forty-four national awards honoring people, projects, exhibits, and publications. The winners represent the best in the field and provide leadership for the future of state and local history. The award will be formally presented at the AASLH banquet in Kansas City, Missouri, on September 28, 2018. The banquet is supported by a generous contribution from the History Channel.

The Oshkosh Public Museum is a non-profit regional history museum, entrusted with the care of more than 300,000 collections and historical documents representing the history, culture and heritage of the region. An amazing resource for research and discovery, the Museum is nationally accredited by the American Alliance of Museums and listed on the State and National Register of Historic Places. Housed in the historic Sawyer home since 1924, the Museum brings history to life through quality exhibitions and special programs, engaging guests in ways that inspire discovery.