AN IMAGE in the Smithsonian traveling exhibit, “The Way We Work,” shows deck crew on the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) guiding a fighter jet.

AN IMAGE in the Smithsonian traveling exhibit, “The Way We Work,” shows deck crew on the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) guiding a fighter jet.

LEWISTON — A new Smithsonian Institution traveling exhibit, “The Way We Worked” that depicts how work spans time, cultures and economic systems, will be on view at Museum L-A from Feb. 8 through May 4.

An opening reception, with free admission, will be Feb. 8 from 4 to 7 p.m.

YOUNG women deliver ice, circa 1918.

YOUNG women deliver ice, circa 1918.

“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,” states a museum news release. “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.”

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 LA’s executive director. “Right from the beginning, Museum L-A has been gathering and sharing the stories of local industry and workers,” with 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.”

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 through March 23. At Museum L-A, Killaars’ work will include an installation incorporating vintage Bates Manufacturing bedspreads once woven in the exhibit space.

Museum L-A, located in the historic Bates Mill at 35 Canal St., is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, call 333-3881, visit Museum L-A at,, or follow on Twitter @MuseumLA.

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