As executive director of the Pioneer Florida Museum and Village, Stephanie Black is always looking for opportunities to enhance what the museum offers. So when she discovered that the Florida Humanities Council would be bringing the Smithsonian Institution's "The Way We Worked" traveling exhibition to six stops in Florida, Black rallied folks to help make the case to bring it to east Pasco.
It was a good call that paid off.
After an application process and a bunch of recommendations, the museum was selected as the first stop for the exhibit, which will be open to the public from Saturday to March 18.
"The Way We Worked" is one of two traveling exhibits making the rounds this year in Florida as part of the Museum on Main Street project, which fosters local, state and national partnerships to bring exhibitions to small communities, said Alex Buell, program coordinator with the Florida Humanities Council.
After leaving Dade City, "The Way We Worked" will travel to cultural organizations and museums in Enterprise, Bartow, Lake Wales and Tarpon Springs. The other traveling exhibit, "Water/Ways," will be featured Feb. 4 to March 18 at the Sulphur Springs Museum and Heritage Center.
"It took the whole community coming to together to bring this here," Black said, adding that she recruited local notables such as Dade City Mayor Camille Hernandez and members of the Pasco Historical Society to pen persuasive letters on the museum's behalf.
There were criteria to meet, and the Pioneer Florida Museum, with its exhibits and quaint village, certainly fit the bill, Black said.
" 'The Way We Worked" focuses on the last 150 years and the way people have worked," she said, adding that it will lend some luster to the museum's ongoing offerings, which include a train depot, a general store, a citrus packing house and a cane syrup mill, as well as woodworking tools, early farming equipment and vintage buggies on the museum's 16-acre wooded setting.
The traveling exhibit is interactive and comprised of large, multi-sided display boards filled with artifacts, flip books, videos and photographs from the National Archives.
It will give local residents access to a small part of Washington, D.C.'s Smithsonian Institution and its materials, said Buell, adding that host museums also will receive a $5,000 grant to be used in a variety of ways, such as bringing in special speakers or promoting the event in the community.
"Not everyone can make it to D.C.," he said, adding that the exhibit also helps the host community shine a spotlight on its own history.
The grand opening will be Saturday, the same day as Dade City's Kumquat Festival. There will be a sneak peak for those who want to stop in on the evening of Jan. 27.
The level of interest is rising, and field trip spots are filling up fast, Black said, adding that a series of guest speakers will be making appearances through the exhibit's run.
"This will be the first time a Smithsonian exhibition will be in east Pasco County," she said. "It allows us the opportunity to explore this fascinating aspect of our own region's history, and we hope that it will inspire many to become even more involved in the cultural life in our community."
Contact Michele Miller at [email protected] Follow @MicheleMiller52