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Past Exhibitions

Work It Out: The Material & Visual Culture of Labor

January 11 - June 17, 2018

Woodruff Gallery

Most American employed full-time spend at least one-third of their day at their job. Labor-related issues, such as immigrant workers, the gender pay gap, and healthcare, are frequent headlines in today’s news. New technologies and evolving work habits mean that the distinction between private time and hours “on the clock” has weakened and blurred over the past decades. As human life expectancy has also increased over the years, adult Americans have begun working longer past mid-life. The nation’s historical Protestant work ethic coupled with the glittering possibilities of the American dream mean that full-time employees in the United States currently work on average almost 48 hours per week.

This exhibition highlights how labor, work, and vocation manifest visually—in tools, processes, and records. Divided into several sections, the project provides a slice-of-life look at a handful of white- and blue-collar jobs. Drawn completely from The Columbus Museum’s collection, Work It Outbrings American art and regional history together to illuminate how we occupy our working hours, as well as how we spend our increasingly precious leisure time.