SMC hosting Smithsonian exhibitPublished 11:05am Tuesday, October 30, 2012
Southwestern Michigan College will host the Smithsonian Institution’s traveling exhibit “The Way We Worked” on Nov. 6 with an open house reception on Nov. 9 from 4-7 p.m.
Dowagiac is the second stop for the exhibit in the state as the Michigan Humanities Council takes it to six towns. The exhibit will run through Dec.14 in Room 141 of the Dale A. Lyons Building on the Dowagiac campus. Exhibit hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
“The Way We Worked” is adapted from an original exhibition developed by the National Archives and explores how work became such a central element in American culture by tracing the many changes that affected the workforce and work environments over the past 150 years.
The exhibit draws from the Archives’ rich collections to tell this compelling story, as well as items from the Dowagiac museum’s local history collection.
The exhibition focuses on why we work and the needs that our jobs fulfill. Our work takes place everywhere – on the land, on the streets of our communities, in offices and factories, in our homes, and even in space. Whether you live in “Steel Town, USA” or wear a uniform each day, work assigns cultural meanings and puts us and our communities in a larger context.
The exhibit will offer multiple interpretive opportunities for visitors through large graphics, relevant objects and work clothing. Through audio components, hear from workers their own stories about changes in their industries and confronting workplace challenges. Follow workers into their workplaces through films of various industries. Interactive components will introduce visitors to the experiences of multiple generations of families involved in the same work.
“We are very pleased to be able to bring “The Way We Worked” to our area,” said Dowagiac Museum Director Steve Arseneau. “It allows us the opportunity to explore this fascinating aspect of our own region’s history, and we hope that it will inspire many to become even more involved in the cultural life of our community.”
Arseneau plans to exhibit artifacts tied to the furnace and manufacturing industries that defined Dowagiac for decades from the late 1800s to 1960s.
The collection related to Round Oak’s history is the most impressive and includes tools used by Round Oak Stove Co. workers, documents from the Rou
nd Oak Benefit Association, and a 1936 painting showing a scene inside the foundry. The exhibit will also include artifacts related to local agriculture, military service and the many ways the people of Dowagiac worked over the past 160 years.
Southwestern Michigan College will host four lectures associated with the exhibit. Joan Lyons and former Heddon employees will present “The Women of Heddon” on Nov. 15; John Beck, Michigan State University professor and state historian for the exhibit, will elaborate on the exhibit’s themes on Nov. 29; Arseneau will present “Dowagiac: The Furnace City” on Dec. 5; and Andy Beckman, archivist at the National Studebaker Museum, will show the Studebaker video “More Than a Promise” and talk about labor at the South Bend auto factory on Dec. 12.
All lectures will be held in the theater of the Dale A. Lyons Building at 6:30 p.m.