Smithsonian Traveling Exhibit Opens in Chestertown


Maryland Humanities is pleased to announce that its statewide tour of The Way We Worked, a Smithsonian Institution traveling exhibition, opens in Chestertown. Sumner Hall (G.A.R. Post #25) will host the exhibition and, along with its principal partner, Washington College’s C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience, will feature companion exhibits and programming across the county highlighting Kent County’s work history.

The grand opening on March 31 will feature a reception and preview party. The companion exhibition at Sumner Hall, The Black Labor Experience in Kent County, will feature four displays: (1) the Story of the Founders of Sumner Hall and the 471 African Americans who served with the Union forces during the Civil War; (2) an exploration of the contribution of Free and Enslaved Labor in Kent County – from the Revolutionary War-era through the end of the 19th Century; (3) Tools of the Trades: a display of traditional farm, fishing, household and office “tools” used in Kent County; and (4) contemporary stories – Oral Work Histories of Community Members. There will also be a Kids’ Corner with hands-on activities for young children.

The C. V. Starr Center is also offering three special events: (1) a keynote lecture by Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America; (2) Choppin’ at the Shop – an original multimedia work of music, the art of conversation and photography as it relates to African Americans who work or have worked in Kent County; and (3) A Walk Through Working Chestertown. In addition, more than 15 other venues across the county are hosting exhibits, lectures and programs celebrating workers in the community.

Nina Johnson, executive director of Sumner Hall, said, “Hosting this exhibition has given us a unique opportunity to explore the rich history of the way we have worked in our communities across Kent County. The Museum on Main Street project has allowed our community to come together in creative ways to identify individual stories and to document them. It has been a rewarding experience to see how our collaboration with Washington College, the Kent County Public Schools, the Historical Society of Kent County, the Sultana Educational Foundation, the Museums of Kent, the Kent County Public Library and other local organizations and businesses has resulted in an exciting menu of educational and cultural programs across the county. While we are proud of all these offerings, our companion exhibition that showcases the contributions of Kent County African American workers from the 1650s to the present is especially important. The Way We Worked initiative has truly been a “win-win” experience for everyone!”

“We’re delighted to bring The Way We Worked to five small communities across the state and celebrate Maryland’s diverse and engaging work history, from the paper and steel mills of the 19th Century to the technology boom of today. We hope you’ll join us in exploring the rich local history unearthed through each community’s companion exhibit and programming,” said Phoebe Stein, executive director of Maryland Humanities.

The Way We Worked will be on view at Sumner Hall through May 20. Sumner Hall is located at 206 South Queen Street in Chestertown. Learn about all the upcoming special events at

Maryland Humanities is a statewide nonprofit organization that creates and supports educational experiences in the humanities that inspire all Marylanders to embrace lifelong learning, exchange ideas openly and enrich their communities. For more information, visit

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