Through robust collaboration, UW students help new museum launch inaugural exhibit

Cortney Anderson initially didn’t know what to make of the peculiar object — two plate-sized metal disks connected to each other on long poles.

“I couldn’t even venture a guess,” says the UW–Madison graduate student.

The object turned out to be a Norwegian wafer iron, forged by a blacksmith nearly 150 years ago and used to make a crisp cookie called krumkake. Anderson is now something of an expert on the baking utensil — and other Scandinavian artifacts — due to an extensive partnership between UW–Madison and the Mount Horeb Area Historical Society.

Over the course of two years and four consecutive semesters, students of art history professor Ann Smart Martin researched dozens of objects in the historical society’s expansive collection. The resulting scholarship enriches the inaugural exhibit at the historical society’s new museum, opened in June.

“What we envisioned as a rather simple exhibit became much deeper because of the contributions of Ann and her students,” says Johnna Buysse, the museum’s curator. “Given our time constraints, we could not have done this exhibit without them.”

Mount Horeb is a village in southwestern Dane County, about 25 miles from Madison.

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