Celebrating Michigan Rich Cultural Heritage

The Way We Worked

About the Exhibit

The Way We Worked is a Smithsonian Institution traveling exhibit that explores the importance of work in American culture by tracing the many changes that affected the workforce and work environments over the past 150 years.

The exhibit, adapted from an original exhibition developed by the National Archives, draws from the Archives' rich photographic collections to tell the story of work in American culture. Why, where and how we work? What value does work have to individuals and communities? What does our work tell others about us?

Using large-format pictures, objects and interactive components, the exhibit will show how we identify with work, as individuals and as communities. Hosts will complement the exhibit with public programming focused on the local work history for each area. This might include development of an additional exhibit, discussion programs or community-based documentaries. The Council supports host communities with grants, program planning workshops and tour logistics.

For more information, contact the Michigan Humanities Council at 517-372-7770.

Tour Information: 2014-15

The Way We Worked will travel to five areas of the state beginning on October 2014 and closing July 2015. The selected host sites for this exhibit tour are:

Artworks: Big Rapids
City and Region: Big Rapids, West Central
Exhibit Dates: Oct. 4 - Nov. 30, 2014

Oxford Public Library
City and Region: Oxford, Southeast
Exhibit Dates: Dec. 6, 2014 through Feb. 1, 2015

William G. Thompson House Museum
City and Region: Hudson, Southeast
Exhibit Dates: Feb. 7 - March 29, 2015

Downtown Art Place: Ironwood
City and Region: Ironwood, Upper Peninsula
Exhibit Dates: April 4 - May 31, 2015

Plainwell Downtown Development Authority
City and Region: Plainwell, Southwest
Exhibit Dates: June 6 - July 19, 2015


The Way We Worked has been made possible in Michigan by the Michigan Humanities Council - with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities. The Way We Worked is part of Museum on Main Street, a collaboration between the Smithsonian Institution and state humanities councils across the country. Support for Museum on Main Street has been provided by the United States Congress.


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children textile workers

Children textile workers from the National Archives.

Auto assembly line

Workers on an auto assembly line from the National Archives.

cannery workers

Pineapple cannery workers from the National Archives.

Michigan Humanities Council

119 Pere Marquette Drive, Suite 3B, Lansing, MI 48912

p: 517-372-7770 ยท f: 517-372-0027


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