The Way We Worked Logo

The North Carolina Humanities Council invites cultural and civic organizations in the state’s rural areas to apply to host “The Way We Worked,” a traveling exhibition created by the Smithsonian Institution and part of its national Museum on Main Street project.

“The Way We Worked” will tour six communities in North Carolina in 2018, hosted by small museums, public libraries, historic sites, community centers, parks and other local organizations. The deadline to submit proposals to host the exhibit is June 30, 2016. Applications, instructions and RFP information can be found here.

Adapted from an original exhibition developed by the National Archives and Records Administration, “The Way We Worked” 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, accounts of workers, film, audio and interactives, to tell the story of how work affects individual lives and the historical and cultural fabric of our communities.

“Allowing all of our state’s residents to have access to the cultural resources of our nation’s premiere museum is a priority of the North Carolina Humanities Council” said Paula Watkins, Executive Director of the North Carolina Humanities Council. “With each of our Museum on Main Street tours, we are pleased to work with local host venues to build the capacity of our state’s local cultural institutions and to provide public programs to compliment the Smithsonian exhibition.” “The Way We Worked” will allow us the opportunity to explore this fascinating aspect of our own state’s history, and we hope that it will inspire many to become even more involved in the cultural life of our community.”

“The Way We Worked” is part of Museum on Main Street, a collaboration among the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES), state humanities councils across the nation and local host institutions. Following are North Carolina organizations that have previously hosted exhibits:

“New Harmonies” (2010)
• Mount Airy Museum of Regional History, Mount Airy
• Warren County Memorial Library, Warrenton
• Museum of the Albemarle, Elizabeth City
• Arts Council of Wayne County, Goldsboro
• Rural Life Museum at the Liston B. Ramsey Center for Regional Studies, Mars Hill College, Mars Hill
• Don Gibson Theatre, Shelby

“Journey Stories” (2012)
• Pender County Public Library, Burgaw
• Rockingham County Historical Society Museum & Archives, Wentworth
• Mountain Heritage Center, Cullowhee
• North Carolina Museum of the Coastal Plain, Wilson
• North Carolina Transportation Museum, Spencer
• Robeson County History Museum, Lumberton

“Hometown Teams” (2015)
• Mount Airy Museum of Regional History, Mount Airy
• Wake Forest Historical Museum, Wake Forest
• Waterworks Visual Arts Center, Salisbury
• Core Sound Waterfowl Museum & Heritage Center, Harker’s Island
• Transylvania County Library, Brevard
• Iredell County Public Library, Statesville

To learn more about applying to host this exhibit please see our RFP Application or contact the program coordinator Caitlin Patton at or 704.687.1521.