Tuesday, Oct. 7 — Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014.
Opening Reception: 5:00-8:00pm, Friday, Oct. 10.
Between the mid-1800s, when 60 percent of Americans made their living as farmers, and the late 1900s, work and the workplace experienced a transformation. The Way We Worked explores the social changes that have affected the workforce and work environments over the past 150 years. The exhibit features photographs that show how immigration, gender, ethnicity, class, and technology affected workplaces and the workforce.
The exhibition will open Tuesday, October 7, 2014 at Artworks, 106 North Michigan Avenue, in Big Rapids. The exhibit and reception are open to the public with free admission.
The exhibition is divided into five sections:
- “WHERE We Worked” explores the places Americans worked, from farms to factories, mines to restaurants, as well as how race and gender often determined roles and status.
- “HOW We Worked” examines the effects of technology and automation on the workplace with images of people on assembly lines or using their tools of trade.
- “What We WORE to Work” looks at the way uniforms serve as badges of authority and status, and help make occupations immediately identifiable.
- “CONFLICT at Work” looks back at not just the inevitable clashes between workers and managers over working conditions, wages and hours, but also how social conflicts, such as segregation, have influenced the workplace.
- “DANGEROUS or UNHEALTHY Work” features many of the photographs taken by social reformers hoping to ban child labor, reduce the length of the work day and expose unsanitary workplaces.
The exhibition draws from the National Archives’ collections to tell this compelling story. It includes songs, hard hats and other features that make this exhibit family friendly. Along with The Way We Worked, Artworks is presenting exhibits about Big Rapids’ logging history and work in public safety. We are also pleased to present paintings from artist Paul Collins’ America at Work series, sponsored by the Ferris State University Fine Art Gallery. Some of the workshops, music, films, and other events related to the exhibit are listed below.
Please visit The Way We Worked Schedule for a complete list of scheduled events and updates, and The Way We Worked Resources for Teachers for a list of sites that provide useful educational resources.
The Way We Worked has been made possible in Michigan by the Michigan Humanities Council. The Way We Worked, an exhibition created by the National Archives, is part of Museum on Main Street, a collaboration between the Smithsonian Institution and State Humanities Councils nationwide. Support for the Museum on Main Street has been provided by the US Congress. Support for The Way We Worked in Michigan has been provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities.
And special thanks to our local partners:
Artworks Board and Staff