Christmas decorations from days gone by glisten throughout the rooms of the Louis E. May Museum in Fremont.

As soon as visitors step in the front door, they are greeted in the entry room by a flocked tree filled with ornaments depicting reindeer, birds and snowflakes.

Nearby, a Christmas village display sits in front of the room’s stained glass windows.

There also is a vintage German crèche, which Jeff Kappeler, director/curator of May Museum, said is designed to hold a burning candle in the back, and when the heat comes through, it makes the wheel of angels revolve.

The entry room gives visitors just a glimpse into what festive decorations they can expect to see throughout the museum at 1643 N. Nye Ave.

To transform the museum for Christmas, the staff begins decorating around the first of November.

“We try to coordinate it with the special exhibit that is going on at the time,” Kappeler said. “We try to use vintage ornaments that are given to us and we try to vary it every year so it’s different.”

The exhibit currently on display at May Museum is “Transplanted: The Early Ethnic Settlers of Dodge County.”

Visitors are invited to view all of the Christmas decorations at the museum through the end of December. The museum is open 1:30-4:30 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. The last tour is available at 3:30 p.m.

Admission is $5 for adults, $1 for students and free for children ages 5 and under.

On the main floor of May Museum, visitors can make their way through the parlor room, the dining room, library and kitchen.

The parlor room tree is docent Cynthia Lauritsen’s favorite tree in the museum. The large tree is adorned with several vintage Santa Claus ornaments and a topper with bells. Across the room, a manger scene is set up on top of the piano.

The dining room tree is filled with German Springerle cookies while lighted garland adds a festive touch around the 1920’s train in the library made by toymaker Buddy L.

The kitchen has a display of ethnic kitchen items and utensils that would have been used for holiday preparations.

Upstairs, visitors can view several feather trees; a Victorian tree with vintage tinsel; cases containing Swedish-American, German-American and Czech-American items; and a Swedish tree in the pool room.

In the sunroom there is a tree which features pictures of the Vrba brothers from Dodge County. The tree is decorated with items from their Christmas trees in the 1920s, including candy boxes and yo-yos.

Kappeler encourages everyone to make time and visit the museum.

“You would be surprised how many people in Fremont have never been here,” he said. “We have people who say, ‘Well, I’ve lived here for 19 years and I’ve never been here.’ If we get them through the door, then it’s like, ‘Well, if I knew it was like this, I would have come a long time ago.’”

Lauritsen has been volunteering at the museum for about three years, but has been coming to the museum for many years.

“This is just the most enchanting place,” Lauritsen said. “I think it’s kind of a hidden treasure.”

In addition to viewing all of the decorations throughout the museum, visitors also can stop by the museum’s gift shop. It is open the same hours as the museum.

“There are all sorts of homemade items, tea towels, a wreath and wonderful old ornaments,” Lauritsen said.


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