Bergstrom-Mahler Museum of Glass
Backstory and Context
Evangeline Bergstrom, born in New York in 1872, was fascinated by paperweights as a young child. This fascination began with her visits to her grandmothers home, as her grandmother had always displayed a paperweight in the parlor. Following the death of her grandmother, Evangeline attempted to find the paperweight that spurred her passion. Unfortunately, she could never find it. Never-the-less, Evangeline began a life long interest in the history and acquisition of paperweights.
Evangeline's husband, John Nelson Bergstrom, along with his father, founded Bergstrom Paper Company in 1904. The couple gave back to the community in a number of ways, one may say it was apart of their legacy. During the beginning of the 20th century, Evangeline began collecting and researching paperweights. She became an expert on the subject, and began to gain recognition for her collection. Evangeline displayed her collection at museums, in magazines, and with anyone who happened to be interested. By the 1940s, she had acquired hundreds of paperweights, and published a book on the subject. After the death of her husband, the city of Neenah began plans for a museum to house Evangeline's collection with the money that her husband had left for that purpose. The Tudor mansion, built by the Bergstrom's, was dedicated as the home of the new museum.
Originally known as the John Nelson Bergstrom Art Center, the institution opened in 1959, with Evangeline being a founding member. The acquisitions of glass objects have grown beyond paper weights, and now number over 3,500 pieces. The museum was renamed after Ernst Mahler donated his adored Germanic glass collection that he had purchased for his wife in the 1930s. Today, the Bergstrom-Mahler Museum of Glass has expanded its collections beyond the founding paperweight collection that was so cherished by Evangeline Bergstrom.