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RCA Artifacts On Display At Monroe County History Center

A white dog on display as part of the RCA exhibit

Nipper was the original mascot of the RCA, before he was replaced by the smaller and iconic Chipper. (Zach Herndon, WFIU/WTIU News)

A new exhibit at the Monroe County History Center features items from the former RCA factory on Rogers Street.

The building opened in 1940 for the Radio Corporation of America manufacturing radios, televisions and music players. During and following World War 2, around 80 percent of the workforce was women. The plant closed in 1998.

Exhibit Manager A.J. Gianopoulos says the factory played an important role in shaping the local community. He says Bloomington's tradition of powerful female figures can be dated back to the RCA factory. 

“I think it’s real powerful for people to grow up seeing their mom do this, or mom or grandma, or sister, go do this physical labor and they come back and they provide for the family,” Gianopolous says. 

The exhibit showcases old RCA products, a television set gifted to Herman B. Wells and old factory outfits.

Gianopoulos says that while RCA workers didn’t wear safety gear, they dressed in formal clothes.

“So there was this beauty standard that I feel that RCA may not have written on paper, or told them to do this, but it was kind of expected that you look like this,” Gianopolous says.

The exhibit will be on display until April.

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