Presque Isle County, home to the world’s largest limestone quarry and known for its industrial past, will be the first Michigan site to host the traveling Smithsonian Institution exhibition, The Way We Worked.
The Presque Isle County Historical Museum is one of six Michigan sites to host the exhibition, coordinated by the Michigan Humanities Council, and is the only northern Michigan site in the Lower Peninsula. It will be on public display from Sept. 15 – Oct. 28 at the museum’s Henry & Margaret Hoffman Annex, 175 W. Michigan Ave., Rogers City. Admission is free.
The Way We Worked, adapted from an original exhibition developed by the National Archives, explores how work became a central element in American culture by tracing the many changes that affected the workforce and work environments over the past 150 years. The exhibition draws from the Archives’ rich photographic collections to tell this compelling story. In addition to a national focus, the historical museum will include a photo archives exhibition detailing local work history – such as lumbering, farming, mining and more – through historic and current photos of community workers.
“It’s a great opportunity for us,” said Mark Thompson, museum executive director and curator. We really don’t have many resources available in our region to view a professionally done exhibit. …We’re kind of a blue-collar area – lots of lunch bucket working people and farmers – and here’s an exhibit they can all identify with. It’s going to bring a lot of people, probably a lot of new people, into the museum.”
In perfect collaboration, Rogers City recently celebrated the centennial anniversary of the Calcite Limestone Quarry, and the Presque Isle District Library is in the midst of a Michigan Humanities Council major grant project in which a documentary showcases the plant’s history. The museum also published a book – “Calcite and the Bradley Boats: A Pictorial History Centennial Edition” – featuring a majority of material never before featured in print such as pictures and insider details from the early plant days.
Also included with the exhibit is an interactive feature with Stories from Main Street. This website and accompanying phone application make it easy to record and share memories of your small town. Stop by the exhibit in Rogers City and tell us what you like about the area. If you can’t make it, go online and search for stories by map or subject matter. The Way We Worked focuses on the small-town pride that engulfs our state, so whether you can make it in-person or not, your story from Main Street is a great way to be involved!
After its stop in Rogers City, the exhibit will be moved to Southwestern Michigan College, in Dowagiac, where a local focus will be on its manufacturing history. As the tour continues throughout the next year, be sure to visit www.michiganhumanities.org for exhibit information and local work history for each site.
The Way We Worked has been made possible in Michigan by the Michigan Humanities Council and is sponsored locally by WCMU Broadcasting. 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.
2012-13 The Way We Worked Schedule
Nov. 2 – Dec. 17, 2012
Dale A. Lyons Building
Southwestern Michigan College (Dowagiac)
Dec. 21, 2012 – Feb. 11, 2013
Cromaine District Library (Hartland)
Feb. 15 – April 1, 2013
Bay College (Escanaba)
(Host: Escanaba Public Library)
April 5 – May 20, 2013
Pere Marquette District Library (Clare)
May 24 – July 8, 2013
Hart Area Public Library (Hart)