OWAHCOntario Workers Arts and Heritage Centre (Hamilton, Ontario, Canada)
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At OWAHC, several exhibitions have ended up as flat displays attached to walls, with only limited three-dimensionality and even more limited interactivity.
(66) OWAHC has had several exhibitions to which specific unions have been convinced to contribute, although involving members in the planning and production has proved difficult to organize.
They are delighted with the grand architecture of the old Custom House that OWAHC inhabits--in spite of all the museological debates about avoiding the museum as "temple." (68) It is not hard to see that these assumptions among working people are based not only on their limited contact with museums, but also with their deep concern about respectability.
In practice, OWAHC has learned that after a splashy opening night, an exhibition may have little life unless it connects with ongoing community activism.
In co-operation with District 8 and District 36 of the Ontario Secondary Schools Teachers Federation (OSSTF) the Workers' City tours have also become part of the OWAHC EDU-KIT, now available for use in Hamilton and Wentworth Country classrooms.
In line with OWAHC's programming initiative, the Workers' City tours take history out of the museum and into the streets, allowing it to become an organic part of the community that surrounds it.
For more information on OWAHC see their semi-yearly newsletter WorkLines.
The exhibit, housed in the main gallery of OWAHC's Customs House, was both visually and intellectually stimulating.
"The People and the Bay" is typical of the value and quality of the material produced by OWAHC. It underlined the dual role that Burlington Bay played both for the people of Hamilton as a recreational facility and as a source for economic growth and viability, particularly through industrial production.
Similarly, inequalities between the social classes, so carefully portrayed in this exhibit, are characteristic of the mandate and purpose of OWAHC, but have been unfortunately downplayed in much recent published urban history.
A short summary of the exhibit, including many of the photographs and anecdotes is available from OWAHC. For more information about OWAHC, write to: Ontario Workers Arts & Heritage Centre, P.O.