Har Ber Village Museum presents the Smithsonian Institution’s exhibit, “The Way We Worked”The Smithsonian is coming! The Smithsonian is coming! The National Archives and Smithsonian explore America’s labor history in traveling exhibition
Har-Ber Village Museum, in Grove, Okla., has been chosen as a host venue for the 2017 tour of the Smithsonian Institution’s exhibit, “The Way We Worked” from March 24 through May 8, 2017.
Work and the workplace have gone through enormous changes between the mid-19th century, when 60 percent of Americans made their living as farmers, and the late-20th century, with its shift from an industrial to a knowledge-based economy. “The Way We Worked” reveals the effects of industrialization, urbanization, immigration, labor unrest, wars, and economic depression on ordinary working Americans, whether they toiled in a coal mine, on a tractor, at a typewriter, or on an assembly line.
Spanning the years 1857-1987, the exhibition’s 86 black-and-white and color photographs document, in rich visual detail, American workplaces, work clothing, working conditions, and workplace conflicts. The images featured in “The Way We Worked,” though possibly taken merely for purposes of record keeping, often reveal much more about how social forces such as immigration, gender, ethnicity, class and technology have transformed the workforce.
“Har-Ber Village is honored to have been selected as one of five sites in Oklahoma in which the exhibit will tour in 2017,” stated Amelia Chamberlain, Executive Director of Har-Ber Village Museum. “The tour was made possible by the Oklahoma Humanities Council.”
The exhibit showcases the changes in the U.S. workforce and work environments over the past 150 years through photographs and video footage from the National Archives. The exhibit celebrates workers from offices, factories, on the road and at home for being real American heroes through contributions to industry and American culture.
Created by the National Archives, “The Way We Worked” exhibit is part of the Museum on Main Street 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 Museum on Main Street program was developed for small town audiences and as a means to draw attention to those communities through local museums and historical societies.
“The exhibition is divided into five sections,” continued Chamberlain:
“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.
Supplementing “The Way We Worked” exhibition will be a companion exhibit from the Oklahoma Historical Society highlighting work in Oklahoma. “And, Har-Ber Village Museum will be installing its own interpretive text panels in several exhibits with a focus on the same work theme and an emphasis on Delaware County,” said Chamberlain. “Although the Smithsonian and Oklahoma Historical Society exhibits will travel to another site after eight weeks, the new panels in the Village will remain on permanent display thanks to funding from the Oklahoma Humanities Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities,” she added.
The V.I.P. reception will be held on Friday, March 24, from 4:30 to 7 p.m. Refreshments and a special program are planned. Current 2017 members will receive invitations. Renew or become a member by calling 918-786-3488 or registering online at har-bervillage.com to attend this reception. Reservations are required for this event.
“The Way We Worked” public opening is scheduled for Saturday, March 25, from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and is free with regular admission. At 1 pm., Humanities Scholar David Gray will show the Charlie Chaplin movie, “Modern Times,” and lead a discussion about how work and our concept of work has changed over time—or not! Arrive at the Visitor Center no later than 12:45 p.m. to be directed to film location in museum. During the opening event, visitors will be able to tour the museum and experience several of the changes that have been added since the 2016 season.
“It is a special thing to have been selected for an exhibition such as this. We hope our community takes time to come and view it. Admission to ‘The Way We Worked’ is free. Regular admission will be charged to tour the Village,” said Chamberlain. “We encourage everyone to check the Village website and Facebook page for updates on related activities and programs.”
Please note Har-Ber Village Museum’s new hour: Thursday through Monday, 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.; closed Tuesday and Wednesday. Admission is $10 for adults; $7.50 for seniors 62+; $5 for children 6-13; under 6 and members free.