Hauling Logs
Boyne City, Michigan
Photo Credit: Ed May

Raven Hill Discovery Center’s mission is to provide a place that enhances hands-on and lifelong learning for all ages by connecting science, history and the arts. Raven Hill is the only place in northern lower Michigan where children and adults can link science, history, and the arts with hands-on activities and explorations both inside and out. Connections emerge through exhibits, facilities, and programs that provide opportunities for all ages to learn, create, grow, and play.

Joel VanRoekel, volunteer, showing off a logging photo that will hang in the Wood Shop, along with 24 other photos showing the history of logging. Old logging tools will also be interspersed with the photos.
Photo: Raven Hill Discovery Center

To that end, Raven Hill Discovery Center was chosen to partner with the Smithsonian Museum on Main Street (MoMS) program on a pilot project about the history of work—a perfect subject for making hands-on connections between science, history, and the arts. This Smithsonian project, a first of its kind, will not only bring a quality exhibit to the northern lower Michigan community, it will also provide a unique learning experience for Raven Hill staff, as they follow the process that the Smithsonian uses to produce their exhibits. Plus, the series of local panels will be designed and printed in such a way that they can be repurposed for future exhibits, such as the History of Transportation or Logging in Northern Michigan.

The exhibition, titled Labor Days: A History of Work, is a unique collaboration between the Smithsonian and Raven Hill Discovery Center. It will now run from August 14 to September 30 of 2021 (rescheduled from 2020) at Raven Hill and everyone is invited to come and find those aspects of work that have a personal connection for them. Interested in space? Neil Armstrong’s boots contained metal thread made at Hoskins Manufacturing in Charlevoix, Michigan. Like war stories? Foster Boat Company built the “storm boats” used to deploy the troops in WWII. Enjoy cars? Both Gaylord and Charlevoix had car companies and a Boyne City company built an articulated tractor. The exhibit will use photos, text, artifacts and hands-on activities to show visitors the last 150 years of who, where, why and how we worked, both throughout the United States and locally. The main exhibit will act as a historical overview of work. Local support panels will be placed throughout Raven Hill facilities and detail the history of work in northern Lower Michigan.

Workmen checking diameters during construction of the Mackinac Bridge in October 1956
Photo: Mackinac Bridge Authority

Related events will include an Opening and Career Day on Saturday, August 14, featuring old and new careers; a Senior Picnic on August 19; a Labor Days Family Weekend September 4 thru 6; and a Transportation Day with old and new vehicles of all kinds on Saturday, September 11. The extensive exhibit is expected to draw 4600  visitors. Currently, thanks to support from Michigan Humanities and local donations, Raven Hill Discovery Center is working “behind the scenes” on the research, design and construction of the exhibit panels, as well as planning related exhibits, programs and events.

We hope to see you in 2021!

Cheri Leach, CEO at Raven Hill Discovery Center