Museum on Main Collaborates with Smithsonian

In the spring of 2021, Pleasanton’s Museum on Main was selected to participate in a Smithsonian project to develop a unique humanities-based exhibition about local work history. It was a hands-on opportunity for the Museum to learn about the exhibition development process used by the Smithsonian’s Museum on Main Street (MoMS) program (which is—apart from this project—not directly affiliated with Pleasanton’s Museum on Main).

The curatorial framework for the exhibition was provided by the Smithsonian. useum on Main staff and volunteers fleshed that framework out with local artifacts, historic images, and oral history material to develop an exhibit reflecting the particular experiences of Pleasanton and the Amador-Livermore Valley in the evolution of work in the United States.

The completed exhibition, On the Job: The Changing World of Work in the Valley and Beyond, opens at Museum on Main on May 31. It will bring to light the who, what, where, why and how of Pleasanton and the Valley at work, and how that experience fits into the nation’s history. It explores the roles played by agriculture, rail transport, and the tech sector—among others—in shaping the history of the Valley and the nation at large over the past 150 years.

Curator Ken MacLennan has enjoyed the collaboration. “The Smithsonian’s been great to work with. Not only did they provide a strong and adaptable framework for this exhibit, but they were also very supportive in helping us tailor the show to highlight the community’s own labor history.” He notes that the exhibit’s themes gave the Museum broad scope to draw on its collections: “Work is an expansive theme, and the
Smithsonian’s approach gave us room to draw on a wide variety of items in our collections.” The exhibit’s displays will include business, household and agricultural tools and machinery, uniforms and clothing, video clips from oral history interviews, and images from Pleasanton’s agricultural past as well as its hi-tech present.

MoMS is a partnership of the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) and state humanities councils. It was created to serve museums, libraries and historical societies in rural areas, where about one-fifth of all Americans live. The partnership brings exhibitions, educational resources and programming to small towns across America. MoMS has visited all 50 U.S. states as well as Guam and inspired some 1,800 towns to rediscover their local histories while finding a renewed sense of community pride. Visit online at

SITES has been sharing the wealth of Smithsonian collections and research programs with millions of people outside Washington, D.C., for more than 65 years. SITES connects Americans to their shared cultural heritage through a wide range of exhibitions about art, science and history, which are shown wherever people live, work and play. For more information, including exhibition descriptions and tour schedules, visit

Pleasanton’s Museum on Main is located at 603 Main Street in downtown Pleasanton. The Museum’s regular public hours are 10-4 Tuesday through Saturday. Admission is free. Further information about the Museum’s collections and programming is available online at, or by telephone at 925/462-2766.

The Museum will host a public opening reception for On the Job Wednesday, May 31 from 5-7 PM. The exhibit will run through Saturday, July 8, 2023. through For information about programming related to this exhibit, visit the Museum on Main’s website