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America on the Move
Collection Exhibition Themes
Managing the container project

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Managing the container project
Matson Navigation Company, Photo by Jeff Broome


This object appears in the following sections:

Making the Exhibition
Container Back Story — Imagining the Setting

Managing the container project
In collection
Not a part of the official Smithsonian Collection
This photograph is one of a series documenting the preparation of several 1970s-era aluminum shipping containers for display in "America on the Move." This view shows Ed Stephens, Manager of Mechanical Engineering at the Matson Navigation Company, reviewing plans with curator Paula Johnson. Stephens managed the container restoration project.
Physical Description
Date Made:
Dates Used:
2003 - 2003
From January to May of 2003, a team of engineers, metal workers, painters, and all-around good folks in Modesto, California, restored to Smithsonian specifications three 1970s shipping containers for the "America on the Move" exhibition. The project was supported by the Matson Navigation Company and was carried out at American Metal Fabricators, in Modesto. The three shipping containers had been manufactured around 1970; they each measured 24' x 8'6" x 8'6" and were made of aluminum. While they had served their original purpose of carrying goods of all sorts between the West Coast and Hawaii, they had spent at least a decade at the Matson terminal in Long Beach, where they had been used by the company for general storage. The object of the restoration was to make the containers look as they might have looked around 1971, as if they had been across the ocean a few times. The restored container sections were delivered to Washington, D.C., and installed in a section of the exhibition that evokes the container yard at the Port of Oakland, about 1970.

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