The Coeur d’Alene Public Library is one of six sites in Idaho selected by the Idaho Humanities Council to host a new traveling exhibit from the Smithsonian Institute.
The IHC will bring the unique exhibit “The Way We Worked.” communities in the state in 2011 and 2012. The exhibit, adapted from an original exhibition developed by the National Archives, 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 exhibition draws from the Archives’ rich collections to tell this compelling story.
In addition to the Coeur d’Alene library, the exhibit will visit the Beardmore Block in Priest River, the McCall Art and Commerce Center, the Burley Public Library, the Magic Valley Arts Council in Twin Falls, and the Boundary County Historical Society in Bonners Ferry.
The exhibit is scheduled to be in Coeur d’Alene Dec. 17, 2011, through Jan. 28, 2012.
The exhibit will be on display for six weeks in each of the six sites. While on display, each community will develop around the exhibit its own local programming, ranging from school projects, to lectures, films, local displays, and other activities limited only by the imagination.
“‘The Way We Worked’ 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,” said Jennifer Holley, IHC Program Officer. “An exploration of the tools and technologies that enabled and assisted workers also reveals how workers sometimes found themselves with better tools, but also with faster, more complex and often more stressful work environments. The diversity of the American workforce is one of its strengths, providing an opportunity to explore how people of all races and ethnicities identified commonalities and worked to knock down barriers in the professional world.
“And, finally, the exhibition shows how we identify with work – as individuals and as communities. 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, along with relevant objects and work clothing. Through audio components, hear from workers their own stories about with 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.
A companion website will invite host communities to create online exhibitions on their local work history and for visitors to share their own work experiences.
“The Way We Worked” is part of Museum on Main Street, a collaboration between the Smithsonian Institution and state humanities councils nationwide. Support for Museum on Main Street has been provided by the United States Congress. The exhibit has been made possible in Idaho by the Idaho Humanities Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities “We the People” Program.
The Idaho Humanities Council is an independent non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing public understanding and appreciation of literature, history, law, anthropology, and other humanities disciplines. The Council receives its funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities and from the generous philanthropy of corporations, foundations, and individuals. For more information, visit the IHC website at www.idahohumanities.org or call the IHC toll-free at 888/345-5346.
News about the library and other city departments is also available on the City of Coeur d’Alene news blog: cdacity.blogspot.com.