Exhibit runs from July 3—August 1
Through Toil and Labor: The Forgotten History of Utah’s Chinese Railroad Workers will provide insight to the daily lives and culture of these laborers as they brought the Central Pacific railroad over the Sierra Nevada mountains and across the Great Basin desert.
With the ceremonial completion of the United States’ first Transcontinental Railroad on May 10, 1869, the nation entered a new age of commerce and travel. The momentous meeting of the rails at Promontory Summit, Utah, meant goods and services could now move across the country in quantities and at speeds previously unknown. Key to this massive effort to connect the nation were the contributions of thousands of immigrant workers from around the globe.
Chinese immigrants composed over 75 percent of the Transcontinental Railroad workforce between 1865 and 1869, numbering more than 11,000 by its completion. These Chinese laborers, mostly young men ages 15-25, left their families and homes in China to seek new economic opportunities. The contributions of these Chinese railroad workers to Utah and the United States are slowly becoming better known.
Through photographs, historical documents, and excavated fragments of imported Chinese ceramics, this exhibition shows the unique history of the Transcontinental Railroad’s Chinese workers in Utah and share what’s been learned from the artifacts they left behind.
Utah Arts & Museums seeks to advance the quality of life for all through arts and museum experiences and cultural opportunities. The Division provides more than 500 outreach services, including arts education, professional development, exhibitions, community outreach, and direct matching grants to schools, local arts agencies, organizations, community centers, performing groups, museums, and individuals across Utah.
The Division acts as a state coordinator and advisor on topics of importance to arts and museums communities. The Division also manages the state’s art assets for fine art, folk art, public art, and traveling exhibitions, reaching every county in the state. Utah Arts & Museums is the primary agency in Utah that distributes state and federal funds to stimulate and encourage growth in the creative industries. The funds are appropriated directly for arts and museums by both the Utah State Legislature and the National Endowment for the Arts. We are a division of the Department of Heritage and Arts (DHA), within the state government of Utah, responsible for the promotion of the arts and Utah museums. We include the Arts & Culture Business Alliance, Utah Office of Museum Services Board and the Utah Arts Council Board. Our goals are to:
- Promote the value and impact of our cultural community
- Ensure access, inclusion, diversity and equity
- Foster sustainable organizations that support community needs
- Serve as a statewide resource hub
- Align the organization to fulfill our vision
- Communicate agency identity
The Utah Division of Arts & Museums is a state agency involved in public funding for arts and museums. As a public entity, it reserves the right to make final decisions on the use of public funds for projects, programs, acquisitions, commissions, or other activities as deemed appropriate by the Division and/or Board.