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‘Making Sense of the Factory’ Series to Focus on History and Impact of Winston-Salem’s Former Tobacco District

A new history series presented by New Winston Museum, Reynolda House, Triad Cultural Arts and Wake Forest Innovation Quarter will explore the history of the former downtown tobacco district, the people who worked there and the impact it had on many aspects of life including the development of downtown Winston-Salem.

“Making Sense of the Factory” will feature four events throughout 2016 – all free and open to the public – beginning with a lecture and exhibit at Biotech Place in Wake Forest Innovation Quarter on May 3 from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

J. Howell Smith, professor emeritus of history from Wake Forest University, will speak about working life in the former tobacco district. The event will also feature an exhibit telling the story of life in the tobacco district from a sensory perspective – providing exhibit-goers with a glimpse of what it looked, sounded and even smelled like in the area.

“The tobacco district is a large part of Winston-Salem’s story,” says Chris Jordan, curator of education at New Winston Museum. “‘Making Sense of the Factory’ will explore not only what life was like and what the impact was on the past, but how the tobacco district has influenced Winston-Salem’s present and will continue to shape its future.”

The sensory exhibit will be a part of all four events in the history series and is a capstone project by Amanda Holland, a UNC Greensboro graduate student in museum studies. Holland developed the exhibit as a result of collecting oral histories from former tobacco district workers. In addition to being featured at each “Making Sense of the Factory” event, the exhibit will also travel to various locations throughout the year, including Biotech Place in Wake Forest Innovation Quarter and the New Winston Museum.

Other events in the series will explore themes such as the history of tobacco marketing and advertising, labor relations and civil rights in the tobacco era.