Heritage Center opens new exhibit featuring labor in the U.P.


Photo courtesy of Olivia Dunn CONFLICT AND RESOLVE – As part of the event highlighting labor in the U.P., this exhibit showcases steelworkers. The exhibit features newspapers, books and stickers varying in time.

Ayanna Allen

NMU’s Beaumier U.P. Heritage Center opened up their new exhibit, “Conflict and Resolve: Labor in the U.P.”  for students on Jan. 30. The exhibit examines organized labor and the development of unions in the region.

The exhibit features historical pictures, mining equipment, laborers, labor union activities and much more from all the way back to the 1860s up to the modern-day. There are also some video presentations and documents to examine. Dan Truckey, director and curator of the Beaumier U.P. Heritage Center, feels that the exhibit will help educate our community on how the efforts of early labor unions helped improve the lives of workers. 

“Extending that beyond industrial workers and now service unions, whether it be the nursing union or the faculty union,” said Truckey. “Whether or not you agree with unions, the exhibit does show the importance they played in the communities and also in worker solidarity … and also for women.”

The exhibit features some famous figures such as Annie Clements, who was at the forefront of union organization and strikes in 1913 in Calumet, MI. According to Truckey, many women played an important role in union growth. 

“They [women] were supporters of their husbands who worked in the unions and mines,” Truckey said.

Olivia Dunn, a junior majoring in international studies, works at the center as a gallery assistant. She helps visitors fully enjoy and immerse themselves in the exhibits by answering questions relating to the history of the objects on display. Her favorite piece from the exhibit is a slip dress made from the leftover fabric made at a garment factory. Truckey felt that the mining equipment was one of his favorite displays. 

“This [exhibit] is related to mining safety, which in many ways is what drove a lot of the early labor efforts in the Upper Peninsula,” said Truckey. “The mines were pretty treacherous places to work.”

The pandemic has had some significant impacts on the Heritage Center. They have to limit the number of guests to 10 to comply with space restrictions. 

“We can only be open to the university community right now. But we are open, and we want the university community to know that,” Truckey said. “[The pandemic] has greatly hindered our attendance … which is disappointing. We really would like more people to see this exhibit.” 

The staff of the center has considered recreating the exhibit online. However, they are hoping to wait it out and in the next few weeks be able to open for the entire community.

The Beaumier U.P. Heritage Center also hopes that once “Conflict and Resolve: Labor in the U.P.” is finished this upcoming May, their next exhibit will discuss the architectural history of the university. In the fall, they will feature “Decolonizing” which is being created by students in the Center for Native American Studies.

To find out more about the exhibit, or to contact Truckey about a group visitation, visit their website here.