Minnesota's most famous mansion will be showing off a radioactive item from the museum's collection.
Glensheen in Duluth launched its Obscura exhibit last summer and has added a few "spooky" items to the collection that can be viewed on mansion tours through Oct. 31, a news release says.
On display will be a collection of Vaseline Glass by Vaseline Glass Inc., which is renowned for its "curious light green color and black and gold specks," the release says.
Vaseline Glass is popular as a collectible due to its unique coloring that comes from adding uranium dioxide when the glass formula is made, which means these pieces are in fact radioactive.
The pieces glow bright fluorescent green under ultraviolet light.
According to Vaseline Glass Collection Inc., Vaseline Glass was primarily made from 1840 to just before World War II, and then continued from 1959 to the present. However, "the government confiscated all supplies of uranium during WWII and halted all production of Vaseline Glass from approximately 1943 until the ban was lifted in November 1958." Due to tight regulations on uranium dioxide, only limited quantities of Vaseline Glass are still made.
It's worth noting that Vaseline Glass isn't harmful — the emissions from the glass are "just slightly stronger than normal background radiation that we are all exposed to on a daily basis," Vaseline Glass Collection Inc. said.
Glensheen estimates the specific glassware on display is probably from the early 1900s and was likely picked up by one of the Congdons, the family who built the 39-room Lake Superior estate in the early 1900s, on their worldly travels.
The Obscura exhibit, which has been extended until the end of the month, shows the Congdons didn't limit themselves to collecting the fine pieces of art you can find on tours of the mansion. They also acquired unique pieces from their travels around the world, some downright creepy dolls (OK, maybe they weren't creepy when the Congdons bought them), a skull with a snake and a frog, and rare maps, among other things.
Glensheen says some of the items on display are a "glimpse into a life that isn't much different than yours." Everyone has that crazy aunt who "keeps everything and gives weird but loved homemade presents," the museum notes, but admits that calling the items normal would be wrong.
All these items are typically in storage in one of Glensheen's 23 closets but have been on display since June. The exhibit can be viewed for all who tour the mansion through Oct. 31.
Glensheen, which the University of Minnesota Duluth owns and operates, is currently offering classic tours and full mansion tours, both of which are self-guided.
Tickets for the class tours are available to buy online here, while you can only buy the full mansion tour tickets at the estate. Grounds passes are also available but do not include the Glensheen Obscura exhibit.
The estate is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and it will be open late, until 7 p.m., on Friday and Saturday of MEA weekend (Oct. 22-23).
During the month of October, Glensheen is also hosting community events, including Whiskey Wednesdays on the grounds from 6-9 p.m., Cider Saturdays from noon-5 p.m., and the Great Glensheen Pumpkin Hunt, where people can try to find nine pumpkins that have been hidden throughout the estate.