Stories of a Workforce

Stories of a Workforce

September 2, 2014 - January 30, 2015
Julia Ideson Building | 550 McKinney St., 77002

Presented by Houston Arts Alliance’s Folklife + Traditional Art program and Houston Public Library
Presenting Sponsor Houston Pilots

Houston Arts Alliance’s Folklife + Traditional Arts program, in partnership with the Houston Public Library, will present the major exhibition Stories of a Workforce: Celebrating the Centennial of the Houston Ship Channel in the historic Julia Ideson Building from September 2014 to January 31, 2015. The exhibition will explore the diverse culture, heritage, and lore of workers associated with the Port of Houston and the Houston Ship Channel.

In addition to dramatic photo, audio, and video installations, Stories of a Workforce: Celebrating the Centennial of the Houston Ship Channel features maps, signage, memorabilia, banners, painted portscapes, ship models, work gear, logs, and objects that enhance and illustrate the story of this unique and diverse work place. Another important component of the exhibition will be its dynamic character, including:

  • Touch screens to identify types of marine vehicles, their movement and activities in the channel.
  • Time-lapse photography that “pilots” the 52 miles of the ship channel day and night.

The Stories of a Workforce: Celebrating the Centennial of the Houston Ship Channelexhibition is augmented by:

  • A fully-illustrated exhibition catalog organized around the exhibition narrative featuring both excerpts from interviews and essays addressing exhibition concepts.
  • An archive of all of the original audio, photographic, and video material for the Working the Port project and the exhibition.
  • Curriculum materials for outreach to area schools in advance of their fall 2014 semester.
  • Public programs including lectures, demonstrations, workshops, symposia and storytelling sessions scheduled for weekends and evenings to ensure full public participation.

An exhibition exploring the diverse culture, heritage and lore of workers associated with the Houston Ship Channel.

Upcoming Events 

CANCELED: Communities, Families, Generations: A Panel Discussion 

Saturday, November 8 | 12 PM – 1 PM
Julia Ideson Building Auditorium 

This event has been canceled. Please join us for one of our other upcoming events listed below.

A diverse group of workers will share stories about the importance of family tradition, community life, and intergenerational memories on the Houston Ship Channel. Presented as part of the Houston History Book Fair & Symposium. 

Houston Grand Opera’s Stories of a Workforce Song Cycle

Wednesdays, December 10 & 17, 2014; January 7 & 14, 2015 | 5:30 PM 
Julia Ideson Building Tudor Gallery

Full 30 minute performance. A reception follows the first performance on December 10.

Elders of ILA 24: A Special Presentation

Wednesday, January 14, 2015 | 6 PM 
Julia Ideson Building Reading Room 

The story of International Longshoremen’s Association Local 24 is reflective of a lesser known part of Port life in Houston. It is a living testament to the dramatic shifts in socioeconomic conditions in Houston over the last 50 years. Individuals who experienced these changes share compelling narratives.

Family Day

Sunday, January 25, 2015 | 1 PM - 4 PM
Julia Ideson Building

Spend quality family time together at the Houston Public Library and explore our current exhibition, Stories of a Workforce: Celebrating the Centennial of the Houston Ship Channel. This program is a unique opportunity to learn about the Port of Houston in an entertaining way with activities for the whole family to enjoy. Come for a little while or stay for the whole afternoon - it’s all FREE!

Partners and Sponsors


  • Houston Arts Alliance
  • Houston Public Library
  • Houston Ship Channel

Presenting Sponsor

  • Houston Pilots


  • Susan Vaughan Foundation
  • Port of Houston Authority
  • Humanities Texas
  • Houston Endowment, Inc.
  • Excargo Services
  • Schroder Marine Services Inc.
  • Anchor Marine & Industrial Supply
  • National Endowment Art Works
  • Houston Public Media