Sloss exhibit opening at Alabama Power Archives

“Sloss Furnaces: Then and Now,” an exhibit showcasing the history of Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark and the nationally recognized Sloss Furnaces Metal Arts Program, will be on display in the Archives Museum at Alabama Power Corporate Headquarters from Feb. 4 through  May 6.

Founded in 1880 by James W. Sloss, the furnaces operated in Birmingham for 90 years. During that time the company celebrated a number of successes, from a bronze medal at the 1883 Southern Exposition for best pig iron, to recognition for its support of the military during both world wars. However, changing technology and shifting markets in the 1960s brought challenges Sloss could not overcome, and in 1970 the oldest blast furnace in Birmingham shut down.

Fortunately, the story of Sloss Furnaces did not end there. After considerable work from dedicated members of the community, Sloss Furnaces was selected for the National Register of Historic Places in 1972. In 1977 the City of Birmingham supported renovations at the site, and in 1981 it was designated a National Historic Landmark. In 1983 the site opened to the public as the only 20th century blast furnace in the nation preserved as an industrial museum.  

“Sloss Furnaces is more than a landmark or museum, said Sloss curator and historian Karen Utz. “It represents the character and spirit of the South’s industrial heritage.”

That spirit is flourishing through the Sloss Furnaces Metal Arts Program. Founded in 1985, the program teaches all aspects of metalworking, from patternmaking, casting and welding, to the forging of sculpture. The program provides studio space for metal artists, and also offers workshops and events for the general public. The Alabama Power exhibit will feature original artwork from the program’s artists-in-residence and students. The works are being offered for sale, with all proceeds going to the artists.  

The public is invited to the exhibit’s opening on Thursday, Feb. 4, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. during Birmingham Art Crawl. Learn more about Art Crawl at

The Archives Museum is located inside Alabama Power’s historic 1925 building, which is part of the company’s Corporate Headquarters in downtown Birmingham. To get to the museum, enter through the company’s main atrium entrance at 600 North 18th St. and stop by the front desk to receive a pass. Normal museum hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays.