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How we have worked

Traveling Smithsonian exhibit at the museum in Hanley Falls displays a history of work in the United States

September 7, 2012
By Steve Browne , Marshall Independent

HANLEY?FALLS?- Men must work to live, and how Americans have worked in the past century-and-a-half is the subject of a traveling Smithsonian Institution exhibit showing at Minnesota's Machinery Museum in Hanley Falls.

Museum Director Lori Johnson cut the ribbon to open the exhibit on Thursday afternoon, an event attended by representatives of the Smithsonian Institution, the Minnesota Humanities Center (MHC) and Yellow Medicine County.

"Our whole museum is kind of a way we worked," Johnson said.

Article Photos

Photo by Steve Browne
Jennifer Tonko, program assistant with the Minnesota Humanities Center, looks at one of the exhibits in the Smithsonian Institution’s traveling exhibition “The Way We Worked,” at Minnesota’s Machinery Museum in Hanley Falls on Thursday. 'The Way We Worked' will be on display at the museum until Oct. 20.

The exhibit features photographs and audio archives of men and women at work in the fields and farms, on land and sea and high above the ground.

"There is a program called Museum on Main Street," said Tiffany Ruhl, curatorial assistant with the Smithsonian Traveling Exhibit Service. "We send out stories of Smithsonian Museum quality that go into small towns to focus and celebrate the local story."

"The Way We Worked" was based on an exhibit created by the National Archives, adapted and expanded by the Smithsonian, with photos covering about 150 years of American work history.

The exhibit was brought to Hanley Falls in cooperation with the MHC.

"We partner with the Smithsonian to bring Museum on Main Street to small towns in Minnesota," said Junauda Petrus, program assistant with MHC. "All the sites apply for the exhibit, Hanley Falls was one of six selected to host. This is the inaugural exhibit, it will travel to five other sites."

Of particular interest to local museum-goers will be the aerial photos of the Hanley Falls elevator, a view of the town taken in 1987 that shows how industry shapes a town, photos of Austin. aka "Spamtown" and photos from St. Paul.

The exhibit also grows at each stop.

"There is an iPad ap that allows visitors to tell their own stories of work, and the Smithsonian is collecting them," said Jennifer Tonko, program assistant with MHC. "So you can participate by telling your own story or by listening."

"The Way We Worked" will be on display at the museum until Oct. 20. The museum season has been extended three weeks beyond the usual closing date to accommodate the exhibit.

"Our hope is that anyone can come to this and see themselves in it," Ruhl said.



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