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Smithsonian Exhibition Depicts Transformation
of Work in America at Museum L-A

LEWISTON - Museum L-A says:  “Get to Work” exploring America’s work history through its new Smithsonian Institution traveling exhibit, The Way We Worked that depicts how work spans time, cultures, and economic systems.  What would life be like without teachers, doctors, artists, musicians or firefighters?  Every day Americans are hard at work on farms, factories, in homes, at desks or in performance halls keeping our communities thriving. Museum L-A, in cooperation with the Maine Humanities Council and Historic New England, will explore the professions and the people that sustain American society from February 8 through May 4. An Opening Reception, with free admission, will take place from 4 to 7 p.m. on Friday, February 8.

The Way We Worked, adapted from an original exhibition developed by the National Archives and Records Administration, explores how work has become a central element in American culture. It traces the many changes that have affected the workforce and work environments over the past 150 years, including the growth of manufacturing and increasing use of technology. The exhibition draws from the Archives’ rich collections, including historical photographs, archival accounts of workers, film, audio and interactive components, to tell the compelling story of how work impacts our individual lives and the historical and cultural fabric of our communities.

"The Way We Worked fits in perfectly with what we’ve been doing," said Rachel Desgrosseilliers, Museum L-A’s Executive Director.  “Right from the beginning, Museum L-A has been gathering and sharing the stories of local industry and workers,” she continued, noting oral history projects and exhibits featuring workers in the textile, shoe and brick industries and now musicians and inventors. “The local section of the exhibit will help show how the meaning of work remains, but how past jobs have sometimes become alien to our younger generations.  We hope that it will lead visitors to defining their own and new meaning of work.  The exhibit will provide a national perspective not only on how and where we worked, but also on workplace conflict and issues. We hope that it will inspire people to think about the dignity that comes with working and then become even more involved in the civic and cultural life of our community.”

The Way We Worked exhibition at Museum L-A is being made possible through grants from Historic New England and the Maine Humanities Council.  Local support for The Way We Worked is being provided by Procter and Gamble and Center Street Dental.

“Historic New England, the largest regional heritage organization in America, is pleased to partner with the Smithsonian Institution to bring The Way We Worked exhibition to Maine,” said Kenneth C. Turino, Manager of Community Engagement and Exhibitions.  “We are delighted that Museum L-A is the only Maine venue for this engaging exhibition and that it will have particular relevance to the people of Lewiston and Auburn, Maine.”

“The Maine Humanities Council is proud to support Museum L-A in bringing this exhibit to the state,” said Anne Schlitt, Assistant Director of the Maine Humanities Council. “Given the proud role the Lewiston-Auburn region plays in Maine's economy, both past and present, the exhibit will undoubtedly have personal relevance for all who come to see it and nicely complements the Museum's existing collections.”

Museum L-A will relate The Way We Worked to its continuing three-year exhibit series, The Power of Music, by showcasing the importance of the music industry to Lewiston-Auburn.  One prominent local figure, Carroll Poulin, will be featured in an upcoming section of the Power of Music and Museum L-A asks all of Poulin’s former music students to contact the museum in preparation for that special exhibit. Please contact the Museum at 207-333-3881 or info@museumla.org. Poulin operated Carroll’s Music Store for many years – first in Auburn, then in Lewiston – where he repaired instruments, taught generations of youngsters and helped establish many school bands. He played in several bands and orchestras and at age 97 continues to be an enthusiastic supporter of the local music scene.

The local community will be further connected to the national exhibit through the display of images and artifacts from local industries, such as banking, journalism, medicine, music and the law to name a few.  These objects will relate the types of work, dress codes, tools and technology in Lewiston-Auburn, and how they have changed over time.  An “interactive wall” will invite members of the community to bring in pictures and descriptions of their work, past or present. Children are invited to participate by contributing materials to show how their parents and grandparents worked. 

In a related exhibition, Dutch textile artist and colorist Fransje Killaars represents the occupation of “Artist.”  Killaars’ installations at Museum L-A are an extension of her upcoming exhibition at the Bates College Museum of Art. “Fransje Killaars: Color at the Center” is on view at both locations from January 26 through March 23, 2013. At Museum L-A, Killars’ work will include an installation incorporating vintage Bates Manufacturing bedspreads once woven in the exhibit space.

The Way We Worked is organized by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES). Historic New England is partnering with SITES for its Museum on Main Street (MoMS) initiative to host this exhibition throughout New England. This national partnership is designed to bring exhibitions and programs to rural cultural organizations. Support for MoMS has been provided by the United States Congress.
Located in the historic Bates Mill at 35 Canal Street, Museum L-A is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.  Visit Museum L-A at museumla.org, facebook.com/MuseumLA, or follow on Twitter @MuseumLA. Connect by phone at 207-333-3881 or email info@museumla.org .

About Museum L-A
Museum L-A, the Story of Work and Community in Lewiston-Auburn, connects history and generations -- past, present and future with national award-winning exhibits, programs for all ages, and special events. The Museum's mission is to strengthen community and connections by documenting and celebrating the economic, social and technological legacy of  L-A and its people.  Located in the historic Bates Mill at 35 Canal Street, Museum L-A is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.  Visit Museum L-A at museumla.org, facebook.com/MuseumLA, or follow on Twitter @MuseumLA. Connect by phone at 207-333-3881 or email info@museumla.org .


About The Maine Humanities CouncilThe Maine Humanities Council is an independent, statewide, nonprofit organization dedicated to helping the people of Maine deepen their understanding of themselves, their communities, and the world.  The Council works with volunteer literacy programs, educators, school systems and libraries to promote the power and pleasure of ideas through its programming; the Council also provides grants supporting projects in community history, exhibits, workshops and other areas of study. Offices are located at 674 Brighton Avenue in Portland. For more information: http://mainehumanities.org, 207-773-5051, info@mainehumanities.org

About Historic New England
Historic New England is the oldest, largest, and most comprehensive regional heritage organization in the nation. Historic New England brings history to life while preserving the past for everyone interested in exploring the authentic New England experience from the seventeenth century to today. Historic New England owns and operates thirty-six historic sites in five states. The organization shares the region’s history through vast collections, publications, public programs, museum properties, archives, and family stories that document more than four hundred years of life in New England. Offices are located at Otis House, 141 Cambridge Street in Boston. For more information: http://www.historicnewengland.org, 617-227-3956, News@HistoricNewEngland.org