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TO AUG. 19, 2001
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“On the Job: Design and the American Office” is intended to demonstrate how office work has shaped, and been shaped by, social and cultural changes. On its simplest level, though, ithe exhibit is one heck of a nostalgia trip. Children (and uninhibited adults) are invited to try their hands at an IBM Selectric typewriter—just like the one I used, in my previous job, earlier this year—and a telephone that has a dial. (It was a pleasure to hear once more the “ZZZZIP-mmmmmm-tik” I recalled from childhood.) The “social corridor” displays clips from office-related dramas from Desk Set to Ally McBeal. Dilbert cartoons, iMac computers, acoustical tiles, and air purifiers (remember trying to create your own “no-smoking zone” in a crowded suite?) evoke memories of every lousy job you’ve ever asked The Man to shove. (“Take This Job and Shove It” isn’t on the exhibit’s soundtrack, but “Bang on the Drum All Day” and “She Works Hard for the Money” are.) The exhibit also looks forward, with 007-esque AT&T gadgets and Haworth Ideation Team’s prototype workstations (pictured), designed to “facilitate visual connections between work in process.” If the exhibit leaves you anxious to run home and update your resume, don’t miss the last section, “Where Will We Office Tomorrow?” in which a quiz helps you determine your ideal work environment. (Mine is a lounge chair.) On view from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Saturday and from noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday, to Sunday, Aug. 19, 2001, at the National Building Museum, 401 F St. NW. $3 suggested donation. (202) 272-2448. (Pamela Murray Winters)