The Museum of Work and Culture
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Located in Woonsocket's historic Market Square, The Museum of Work and Culture tells the story of French Canadian immigrants who left Quebec to come to work in the mills and factories of Woonsocket.
Visitors begin their tour at a rural Quebec farm house and journey through the work day world of Woonsocket's residents from the early twentieth century to the present. On the shop floor of a textile mill, from the front porch of a three family tenement, in church, in school, in the union hall, visitors are immersed in a narrative of the working class in America.
Operated by the Rhode Island Historical Society, the museum includes six walk through displays, two movies, many interactive audio presentations and hundreds of photographs. A predominate theme of the museum is the transformation immigrants undergo in "becoming American". Major exhibits include:
While the museum focuses on the immigration of the French Canadians to Woonsocket, the story is similar to that of millions of immigrants and workers from cities and towns across America.
- Quebec Farm House (around 1870) - Life in rural Quebec.
- Church of the Precious Blood (1874) - Living and Working to New Rhythms - a film about the transition to wage labor.
- Textile Mill Shop Floor (around 1920) - Selling time - workers tell stories about mill work.
- Front Porch of a Triple Decker (1929) - An ethnic community - residents talk about life in Woonsocket.
- Triple Decker Parlor (1929) - A recreated living room from a Woonsocket tenement.
- The Slater Club (around 1885) - Management's view of industry.
- Parochial School Classroom (1929) - Forging a dual identity - Franco-American and American. A priest answers student's questions about the Sentinelle Affair.
- ITU Union Hall (1934) - Strength in Unity - a film about the rise of the Industrial Trade Union, once the most powerful of New England's textile unions.
In keeping with the trend toward converting old industrial buildings to new uses, the museum itself is housed in a former textile mill. Originally the Barnai Worsted Company and later the Lincoln Textile Company, renovations began in 1996 and the museum opened in October, 1997. In the Museum Store, you will find unique gifts, books, crafts and clothing. You will also find brochures, guidebooks and other information for visitors to the Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor. You can also visit the Lt. Georges Dubois Veterans Museum.
The Museum of Work and Culture is located at:
The Museum of Work and Culture
42 South Main Street
Woonsocket, RI 02895
The phone number is (401)769-WORK or (401)769-9675. Hours are 9:30 am to 4 pm on Tuesday through Friday, 10 am to 4 pm on Saturdays and 1 pm to 4 pm on Sundays. The Museum is closed on Monday. Admission is $8 for adults, $6 for seniors or students. Children under 10 are free when accompanied by an adult.
Contact Anne Conway or Ray Bacon for additional information.
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