“All Work, No Pay”

Why do Americans think mothers do the cleaning?

Moms would even clean an office, if they worked there. But, absent a mother, office workers and Americans at large, must clean up after themselves.

Your mother doesn't work here!

Break rooms across America hold signs that read: “Your mother doesn’t work here.” The new display “All Work, No Pay” examines just that: the implied expectation that women will take care of the housework. The display shows that despite making steps forward in the paid labor force, women continue to be responsible for the almost-timeless and undeniably endless unpaid work at home. Pockets, aprons, housedresses and a variety of other costumes meant for domestic work from colonial America to the 1990s will be on display. Objects from various ethnic communities and classes will highlight how women shared similar tasks across race and class despite the complicated dynamics and inequalities between them. Through this display, visitors can see how women have always worked and examine the value and implications of unwaged labor in the home.

Mother's Helper board game

About the Artifact Walls

Artifact walls highlight the depth and breadth of the collections in hundreds of linear feet of glass-front cases lining the center of each floor. They reflect the museum’s core mission to collect, study, and exhibit objects from our nation’s rich and diverse history.