Historic Steelworker Photographs Accompany Production of Sweat
Two of Baltimore’s iconic cultural institutions have joined forces to share the story of American steelworkers and the crisis that is a result of mills closing and the decline of the American manufacturing industry. The Baltimore Museum of Industry (BMI) has curated a collection of photographs from the heyday of Baltimore’s steel industry to be displayed at the Everyman Theatre during the run of Sweat, a production exploring the volatility of the Reading, Pennsylvania community left without manufacturing jobs. The Pulitzer Prize-winning play by American playwright Lynn Nottage will run through November 25.
“We’re thrilled to join forces with The Baltimore Museum of Industry to transform our basement lobby into an artistic opportunity,” remarked Brianna McCoy, Director of Education and Community Engagement. “This new use of our space will enrich the audience experience and introduce our patrons to dynamic local organizations and artists. Our shared goal with The BMI is to connect story to place through the eyes of Baltimore steelworkers - their grit and determination that truly defines our city.”
The collaboration highlights a larger, interactive exhibition titled WHY WE WORK at the Baltimore Museum of Industry featuring contemporary and historic portraits of Baltimoreans in their workplaces, from farms to funeral homes, and medical labs to machine shops. Using prompts, visitors respond to questions about issues related to work, creating a visual narrative about perceptions of contemporary labor.
The images on display at Everyman are historic photographs from the U.S. Library of Congress and show men and women working at Bethlehem Steel in the 1940s as the steel industry boomed during WWII.
“This collaboration was a wonderful opportunity for two organizations to examine the promise—and loss—of the American Dream when deindustrialization strikes,” says the BMI’s Director of Interpretation Beth Maloney, who managed the curation of the pop-up exhibition at Everyman and the larger exhibition on display at the BMI. “We’re honored to help tell the story of American steelworkers and help carry their legacy forward.”
The exhibition will be on display at Everyman Theatre until the close of Sweat (currently on stage): Sunday, November 25, 2018.
The Baltimore Museum of Industry’s WHY WE WORK exhibit runs through April 14, 2019.