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From its days as a center for the railroad to more modern times as a hub for military and government workers, Weber County has offered chances for workers of all ethnicities to find jobs.
That's why Union Station museums manager Holly Andrew thinks it is appropriate that the big museum complex at the west end of Ogden's historic 25th Street is one of seven venues selected to host the Smithsonian traveling exhibition "The Way We Worked."
The free exhibit opens Saturday, Jan. 28, and will remain at Ogden's Union Station through March 19. It will include a partner exhibition on Weber County workers as well as a number of free lectures and special events.
"It fits in well," Andrew said of the exhibit. "Ogden has been the crossroads with the connection to the railroad and then military installations. We've had a huge connection in the national as well as local work ethic."
The exhibit, put on with help from the Smithsonian and the Utah Humanities Council, examines the changes in the workplace between the mid-19th century, when 60 percent of Americans made their living as farmers, and the late 20th century.
The exhibit will feature 86 photographs from the National Archives that focus on the history of work in America and document work clothing, locales, conditions and conflicts.
The Union Station Museum is also creating a partner exhibition that focuses on Weber County. Organizers say it will highlight stories of community members who have worked in a range of local industries and professions.
The Weber County exhibit will put an emphasis on the railroad, military and more modern industries that have helped the Ogden area's workforce adapt.
Organizers say the exhibit will include stories, photographs, artifacts and objects from people of different ethnicities, genders and ages that illustrate the resilience and diverse nature of the local workforce over time.
Andrew said the Smithsonian portion of the exhibit is divided into five sections that include photographs, oral history, audio clips, flip books and stories. Patrons will be encouraged to engage and tell personal stories.
The photographs and historic workplace moments will show how Americans have overcome the challenges in the workplace.
"We will ask people about the kind of jobs they dreamed about doing as a kid and their favorite jobs," said Andrew. "There will be more broad strokes as to what it means to work in Weber County."
Andrew said that what struck her doing research for the Weber County portion of the exhibit is how it has been able to adjust and roll with different changes in technology as well as social challenges.
"We are a diverse county," she said. "What does that diversity mean to the work ethic and Weber County jobs? How did it affect where we worked, how we worked and who works?"
She said an emphasis of the exhibit will be on immigrants who came to the area to find jobs.
"It is important that we made this accessible to everybody," said Andrew, who praised the Smithsonian and Utah Humanities Council for helping to make the event free. "It is meaningful for people who might not be able to attend something in Washington, D.C., to have access to something that is fabulous and personal and that will have real meaning to them. It will be reflective as to the identity of their own culture and enhance a large tapestry of what America is today."
Themes of the Smithsonian exhibition include where Americans work, how they work, who works and why.
For detailed information on the exhibit, visit http://www.TheUnionStation.org.
'The Way We Worked'
When • Saturday through March 19; Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Where • Union Station, 2501 Wall Ave., Ogden
Tickets • Free; http://theunionstation.org
Saturday • Grand opening and work demonstrations, noon.
Feb. 4 • Free family art activity of making clay pots. 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Grand Lobby.
Feb. 11 • Free poetry workshop taught by Ogden's inaugural poet laureate, Brad Roghaar, designed to explore and interpret the themes of work and labor. Noon to 4 p.m. Pre-registration required.
Feb. 13 • Storytelling event and panel focusing on the stories of those whose labor has been affected by gender, race, income disparity or other social issues. 7 to 8 p.m., Grand Lobby.
Feb. 15 • Art as Work Panel featuring several Weber County-based artists from multiple disciplines. 6:30 to 7:30 p.m., Grand Lobby.
Ongoing throughout March • The Myra Powell gallery will house the exhibition "Fiber [Work]" to showcase different kinds of work done by women and the native peoples of Weber County.
March 17 • Val Holley will present a lecture called "The Way We Burped: Bootlegging and Other 25th Street Career Paths" and Sarah Singh will present "Sisters of Scarlet: Prostitution in Ogden." 7 p.m., Browning theater.
March 18 • Walking Tour of 25th Street given by Val Holley, 1 to 2 p.m.
Feb. 25, March 7, March 17 • Utah Public Radio will record 15 oral histories from visitors and community members.