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Rensselaer County Historical Society Selected as one of 10 Museums in the Country to Collaborate with Smithsonian to Develop Local Exhibition about Americans at Work



TROY, N.Y., August 16, 2019 – The Rensselaer County Historical Society (RCHS) announced today that it has been chosen through a competitive selection process as one of 10 museums in the United States to participate in a Smithsonian pilot project to develop a unique humanities-based exhibition about local work history. The project is a hands-on opportunity for local cultural professionals to learn about the exhibition development process used by the Smithsonian’s Museum on Main Street (MoMS) program.

The curatorial framework for the exhibition is provided by the Smithsonian and will be fleshed out by RCHS using local historical images, art and artifacts, video clips and oral histories. The resulting exhibition will reflect the long history and culture of innovation and development of cutting-edge technology in Rensselaer County.

The project explores the places Americans work and 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. By incorporating local elements from both the past and the present, each participating community will have an engaging exhibition specific to their location. The completed exhibition, titled How We Work, will bring to light the “who, what, when, where, why and how?” of Rensselaer County’s history of innovation in the workplace and how it fits within the broader national story.

“We are both thrilled and honored to have been selected by the Smithsonian for this exciting opportunity to use our collection to highlight the history of innovation and entrepreneurship that has defined Rensselaer County for nearly two centuries,” said Karin Krasevac-Lenz, Executive Director of RCHS. “From innovations in agriculture, trade and commerce, iron and steel manufacturing and the detachable collar industry along with the rise of the labor movement of the 19th century to the advances in artificial intelligence, gaming, healthcare, and nano-technology of today, Rensselaer County has a tremendous story to tell about the evolution of work and how it shapes our communities. That story illustrates the nature of work in the United States and we are excited to be the only museum in the state to bring this special opportunity to New York State citizens and the wider region.”

MoMS is a partnership of the Smithsonian institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) and state humanities councils. It was created to serve museums, libraries and historical societies in rural and other underserved areas where about one-fifth of all Americans live. The partnership brings exhibitions, educational resources and programming to small towns across America. MoMS has visited all 50 U.S. states as well as Guam and inspired some 1,600 towns to rediscover their local histories while finding a renewed sense of community pride. Funding for Museum on Main Street has been provided by the United States Congress. Visit online at  museumonmainstreet.org.

SITES has been sharing the wealth of Smithsonian collections and research programs with millions of people outside Washington, D.C., for more than 65 years. SITES connects Americans to their shared cultural heritage through a wide range of exhibitions about art, science and history, which are shown wherever people live, work and play. For more information, including exhibition descriptions and tour schedules, visit sites.si.edu.

About the Rensselaer County Historical Society:

The Rensselaer County Historical Society is a dynamic not-for-profit educational organization established in 1927 to connect local history and heritage with contemporary life. First and foremost, RCHS is a diverse community of people with a common intellectual engagement in the ideals, skills and artifacts that form the roots of our region. Together, we create spaces, host events and promote ideas that cultivate a longstanding tradition of shared storytelling in Rensselaer County, working to recognize every face and every story.

 

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