Press Release


Apply to bring the all-new exhibit “The Way We Worked” to your community

CHICAGO –The Illinois Humanities Council invites smaller museums, libraries, and historical societies in towns of fewer than 25,000 residents to apply to host “The Way We Worked,” a Smithsonian traveling exhibition.

“The Way We Worked” is Museum on Main Street’s newest exhibition. Adapted from an original exhibition developed by the National Archives, it explores how work became such a central element in American culture by tracing the many changes that affected the workforce and work environments. The exhibition draws from the Archives’ rich photographic collections covering more than 150 years to tell this compelling story. Why, where, and how do we work? What value does work have to individuals and communities? What does our work tell others about us?

“The Way We Worked” will tour six Illinois communities from October 2011 to July 2012. Applications should be postmarked by August 31, 2010.  Selections will be announced by the end of September 2010. To request an application, contact Ryan Lewis at 312.422.5585 x231, email, or visit

Sites will be chosen based on geographic location, strength of proposed ideas for auxiliary programming, and physical display space. The exhibition is comprised of six freestanding structures containing interactive components and artifacts mounted in cases, requiring 700 square ft. of display space with eight-foot ceilings, plus additional space for a local exhibit. Sites should also have access to standard electrical outlets.  

“The Way We Worked” is part of the Museum on Main Street (MoMS) program, a partnership between the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service and state humanities councils nationwide. MoMS serves small-to medium-sized communities by bringing Smithsonian-quality exhibitions to local museums, historical societies, libraries, and community centers around the country.

The IHC will provide the following for each host community:

  • Rental of the Smithsonian exhibition for $1500 for a six-week period
  • An exhibition support manual covering installation, object collection and conservation, public relations, and evaluation
  • Promotional items including exhibit brochures, postcards, teacher resources, docent handbooks, and posters for distribution
  • Assistance in program planning and ready-made promotional materials such as Public Service Announcements (PSAs)
  • Travel expenses for a project director to attend a planning and installation meeting at the opening site of the Illinois tour
  • Up to $2,000 in grant funds in support of humanities-based public programs—such as festivals, guest lecturers and performers, film series, artifact collections, workshops, reading discussion programs, dramatizations, etc.
  • A State Scholar who will visit your town and assist with exhibition and program planning and present on opening night
  • A committee of museum experts that will provide technical assistance in all aspects of the project

In return, host communities will be asked to:

  • Identify a staff member or volunteer who will serve as Project Director for its duration and who will attend three statewide workshops: Orientation, Program/Exhibition Planning, and Installation
  • Plan and implement at least three humanities-based public programs alongside the MoMS project
  • Track all staff and volunteer time, facilities, and other resources donated to the project and provide a report of this local cost share at the projects conclusion
  • Pay for shipping the exhibition to their community

The Illinois Humanities Council is a nonprofit educational organization [501 (c) 3] dedicated to fostering a culture in which the humanities are a vital part of the lives of individuals and communities.  Organized in 1973 as the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, the IHC creates programs and funds organizations that promote greater understanding of, appreciation for, and involvement in the humanities. The IHC is supported by state, federal, and private funds.


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