Roebling Museum Selected by Smithsonian to Create Exhibit on American Workers

Image Source: https://www.roeblingmuseum.org

The Smithsonian Institution announced that it has chosen Roebling Museum to develop an exhibit about work in a steel-making company town founded in 1905. Roebling Museum, which documents the history of a company town built by suspension bridge engineers John A. Roebling’s Sons Co., is one of five museums nationwide to participate in Smithsonian’s Museums on Main Street program. 

The exhibit, planned to open in June 2022, will explore how immigrant and migrant families in the company town lived and worked. Guidance from the Smithsonian will help fit the history of Roebling into the national story of industrial history in the United States and address the many challenges that shaped the workforce through the years, including relevant examples affecting the community and Burlington County region today. 

“With this exhibit, we aim to increase understanding of life in a steel-making company town for new immigrants and African Americans who moved north as part of the Great Migration,” says Lynne Calamia, Roebling Museum executive director. “Many descendants of these families still live in the area and our vision is to tell the story of a diverse workforce in a company town through the eyes of the community itself.” 

Creating the exhibit will be a hands-on opportunity for New Jerseyans to get involved in telling their local history. Roebling Museum needs volunteers to help develop the exhibit’s story, choose objects from our collections to display, interview residents for oral histories, digitize historic company work records, and more. 

“This exhibit will reflect the strong history and culture of the company town of Roebling, and we need your help to make it successful,” Calamia says. “Our door is open to community members and volunteers of all ages to help us better understand the full story of work in Roebling. That means taking a deep dive into immigration stories, the Black experience, women workers at the mill, young workers, and the folks who worked outside of the mill to keep the community operating.” 

If you want to get involved by volunteering, donating objects from your family’s past, or contributing funds to the project, contact the museum at Lynne.calamia@roeblingmuseum.org or by calling 212.499.7200. 

About Smithsonian’s Museum on Main Street (MoMS) program: 

Museum on Main Street is a partnership of the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) and state humanities councils. The partnership brings exhibitions, educational resources, and programming to small towns across America. MoMS has visited all 50 U.S. states as well as Guam and inspired some 1,800 towns to rediscover their local histories while finding a renewed sense of community pride. Visit online at museumonmainstreet.org. 

SITES has been sharing the wealth of Smithsonian collections and research programs with millions of people outside Washington, D.C., for more than 65 years. SITES connects Americans to their shared cultural heritage through a wide range of exhibitions about art, science, and history, which are shown wherever people live, work, and play. For more information, including exhibition descriptions and tour schedules, visit sites.si.edu. 

About Roebling Museum: 

Roebling Museum tells the story of the origins and growth of Roebling, New Jersey, a company town built in 1905 by the John A. Roebling’s Sons Company, builders of the Brooklyn Bridge. The village of Roebling, including 700 homes, is historic district listed on the National Register of Historic Places and every one of its buildings has an important story to tell. Exhibits, tours, and programs document the majority-immigrant work force that built the iconic suspension bridges of the American industrial age. 

Roebling Museum is open Saturdays 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and offers regular walking tours and online events. Group visits welcome by appointment. For the latest information, check Roebling Museum’s Facebook page and roeblingmuseum.org.