Residents gather for unveiling of Smithsonian exhibit
RED BAY – An exhibit that residents have been preparing for and anticipating for nearly a year finally opened this past Saturday.
The Smithsonian Institution’s traveling exhibit “The Way We Worked” is currently on display at Community Spirit Bank’s Weatherford Centre in downtown Red Bay through Oct. 25.
Red Bay is one of only six towns in the state chosen to host the prestigious exhibit. Red Bay also holds the distinct honor of being the first town the exhibit will be housed in during the tour.
Representatives from the Alabama Humanities Foundation, who helped bring the exhibit to Red Bay through their Museum on Main Street (MoMS) project, joined state and city officials for a grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony Saturday morning.
“We are so honored to have this exhibit showcased on our main street,” said Rosalyn Fabianke, event coordinator for the exhibit.
“We have looked forward to this for months, and when the exhibit finally rolled in this past week, it felt like we were greeting a family member.”
Thomas Bryant, the grants director for the Alabama Humanities Foundation, said the town of Red Bay should be commended for the job they did in preparing for this exhibit.
“This town has really set the bar,” Bryant said. “I cannot tell you how exciting this is to finally be opening the exhibit.”
“This is a great day for the city of Red Bay and all of Northwest Alabama,” Sen. Roger Bedford said. “We value work and a strong work ethic in Alabama and that is what this exhibit is all about.”
Fabianke thanked the AHF and Rep. Johnny Mack Morrow who she said played an important role in seeing this project come together.
“I knew that this would be something that would not only be great for the city of Red Bay but for tourism in this part of the state,” Morrow said.
“This is a wonderful exhibit that will be educational, informative and interesting. And it is fitting for Red Bay to host it because we are a hardworking people and we are proud of our town.
“There are a lot of people who come to mind who taught us how to work and what hard work was, and we are proud to showcase that.”
AHF board member Nancy Sanford, from Sheffield, also had high raise for the city of Red Bay and their efforts to prepare for the exhibit.
“Those of us in the Shoals have a lot of envy of you all in Red Bay because you are one town and you all pull together,” Sanford said.
“It’s so refreshing to see a community come together as one. I think if all the towns in the state could be like this, Alabama would be a better place. Without the small towns, Alabama wouldn’t be as great as we are.”
“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 National Archives’ rich collections, including historical photographs, archival accounts of workers, film, audio and interactives, to tell the compelling story of how work impacts individual lives and the historical and cultural fabric of the county’s communities.
The city of Red Bay has also put together nine themed exhibits throughout the town to showcase the rich workplace history of the city, county and region.
“Our city is blessed with a lot of good people who have worked hard on this exhibit,” Red Bay Mayor David Tiffin said.
“We count it an honor and a privilege to be part of this, and we welcome everyone to come to the city of Red Bay to see ‘The Way We Worked.’”
The exhibit will be on display for six weeks, free of charge, on Monday – Friday from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. and for designated special events on Saturdays and Sundays.
For information about reservations for field trips and group tours, call 256-356-4445. Information about the exhibit can also be found at www.redbaysmithsonian.org.