As the arrival of a traveling Smithsonian Institution exhibit comes closer, the Hyrum City Museum is planning a number of events to encourage additional visitors.
Hyrum City Museum Director Jami Van Huss said she has worked for over a year with representatives from Utah Humanities and has attended training classes with members of the institution to prepare a number of events to supplement the exhibit and provide an additional local perspective.
“Every year, these exhibits go through states all over the U.S., and the institution has been excellent in helping us find ideas that worked for the communities they’ve visited before,” Van Huss said. “We’ve taken some of those ideas and made it applicable to our own community.”
Hyrum City Museum will host the Smithsonian’s “The Way We Worked” exhibit from March 25 through May 13 as part of the institution’s Museum on Main Street program, in which the institution provides rural museums around the country the opportunity to display an exhibit directly from its national archive.
“The Way We Worked” will examine the shift from agricultural to industrial work between the mid-19th and late-20th centuries and its effect on American culture, which Hyrum will supplement with its own companion exhibit, “Tradition and Innovation: Working Together in Hyrum,” which will specifically look at the shift on a local level.
Although the schedule of local events has not been finalized yet, Van Huss said a number of presentations, workshops, tours and activities have planned throughout the entire seven-week stay of the exhibit.
Van Huss said she was particularly excited about two different lectures scheduled for April. The first, to be held on April 12, will be a presentation from the Cache Valley Historical Society on a history of fighting forest fires in Northern Utah, while the second, on April 21, will examine the Hyrum Dam in the context of irrigation and recreation.
“I think both of the presentations will get people to think about how we use the dam in different ways and how important it is for the cultural health of the city,” Van Huss said.
The museum is also coordinating with Utah Public Radio throughout the exhibit’s showing to interview Cache Valley residents about their own work for a series of radio segments entitled “Utah Works.” Van Huss said people can sign up to be interviewed by UPR to share how their careers have shaped them as people, communicating the message of the Smithsonian exhibit in a new medium.
Van Huss said many of the events will also target families. The Hyrum Library will hold weekly story time events based on a “Community Workers” theme, while the Utah Museum of Fine Arts will host a free family art day April 29 at the museum for children to design their own work aprons, similar to the ones mentioned in the exhibit. Teachers will also be able to check out a box of supplemental materials they could use in their classrooms throughout the exhibit’s visit.
On the final day of the exhibit, the Hyrum Historic Preservation Commission will offer historic tours of the city to commemorate May’s Utah Archeology and Preservation Month. Van Huss said the commission had planned to hold the tours for quite some time, but the presence of the exhibit allowed that event and many of the other planned events to come to fruition.
“Utah Humanities deserves special recognition for orchestrating a lot of these kinds of events,” Van Huss said. “Without them, none of the big events in the state while this exhibit is traveling in Utah would have been able to happen.”
Van Huss said the museum is still looking for volunteers to serve as docents during the length of the exhibit, rotating shifts to provide visitors with an in-depth background to the exhibit and answer any questions the visitors may have. Volunteers would receive training March 24 to serve in the role.
“The ideas we have take the concept of community and run with it,” Van Huss said. “The exhibit can be a point where multiple members of the community and organizations within it and emphasize the level of community partnership we share.”