by Kellie Singleton, Franklin County Times
RED BAY – After the six-week run of the Smithsonian Institution’s traveling exhibit “They Way We Worked” came to a close this past weekend, event coordinators said the exhibit was more successful than they had ever imagined.
At final count, officials said a total of 6,692 people from 41 states and four foreign countries had been to the exhibit, which was housed at Community Spirit Bank’s Weatherford Centre and at other venues throughout downtown Red Bay.
Event coordinator Rosalyn Fabianke said the previous record listed by the Alabama Humanities Foundation for the number of people attending a traveling Smithsonian exhibit was right at 3,000.
“This has been such an amazing experience, and we are so proud that we were able to showcase this exhibit and showcase our wonderful town,” Fabianke said.
“We had school groups, church groups, senior adult groups and many people who were in town because of the Tiffin Motorhomes plant who came to visit the exhibit.
“The response we had was just overwhelming. We are glad that this was a successful event and that the exhibit attracted that many people to Franklin County and to Red Bay.”
Red Bay was one of only six cities in the state of Alabama this year to host the traveling exhibit, which is part of the Museum on Main Street (MoMS) project sponsored by the Alabama Humanities Foundation (AHF) and the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C.
Fabianke said all that has been accomplished over the past six weeks has been the result of teamwork.
“This has truly been a team effort and all the citizens who have volunteered have had fun working together to put this on,” Fabianke said.
“We had over 100 people volunteer to help with this exhibit in one way or another, and I can’t thank the volunteers enough for all the hard work they have put into this event.”
Thomas Bryant, the grants director for the Alabama Humanities Foundation, said the purpose of the MoMS project is to place an emphasis on the smaller towns in the state who might not always have access to resources such as museums and exhibits.
Because of Red Bay’s willingness to host the exhibit, more than 6,000 people were able to experience something they might not have otherwise.
“We have worked with the Smithsonian for the past 12 years on the Museum on Main Street project, and it’s something that has had a positive influence on the communities who have hosted the project over the years,” Bryant said.
The exhibit included 86 black and white as well as color photographs from the National Archives’ holdings spanning the years 1857-1987; large photo murals; a video showing a variety of workplaces; and audio segments that feature workers talking about their experiences with certain jobs.
In addition to the main “The Way We Worked” exhibit, there was also several other exhibits throughout the downtown area that coincided with the overarching theme.
“People seemed to really love the exhibit, but they also seemed to enjoy the other exhibits that gave our town’s history, especially the Red Bay Museum,” Fabianke said.
“So many people were just in amazement that Red Bay had a museum that is so professional and informative.
“It is bittersweet to see the exhibit move on to the next town, but we hope to keep this momentum going and keep people interested in the town of Red Bay and all we have to offer.”