Smithsonian Traveling Exhibit: Water/Ways

North Carolina Humanities is proud to present the Smithsonian Institute’s Water/Ways exhibition. This exhibit designed for small and rural towns will be hosted in six North Carolina communities in 2020 and 2021.

Where can I visit the Water/Ways exhibit and attend related programs?

With program support and funding from NC Humanities, the selected six Water/Ways host venues will develop complementary exhibits showing a local histories and cultures, offer public programs, and facilitate educational initiatives to increase understanding about what water means culturally, socially and spiritually in their own community.

Water/Ways will be on view in the following North Carolina Communities in 2020-2021.

  • Franklin, July 14 2020 – Aug 24, 2020 , Macon County Public Library
  • Wake Forest, Aug 30, 2020 – Oct 10, 2020, Wake Forest Historical Museum
  • Washington, Oct 16, 2020 – Nov 29, 2020, NC Estuarium
  • Wrightsville Beach, Dec 4, 2020 – Jan 18 2021, Wrightsville Beach Museum
  • Graham, Jan 24 2021 – March 5, 2021, Alamance Community College
  • Burnsville, March 13, 2021 – April 25, 2021, Yancey County Public Library

About Water/Ways:

Water/Ways is part of NC Humanities’ Watershed Moments special initiative.

Water/Ways, a Smithsonian exhibit, dives into water environmentally, culturally, and historically. North Carolina’s distinct aquatic landscape of Atlantic Coast beaches, mountain rivers and local lakes plays an integral part in shaping our state’s identity. Water/Ways is designed for small-town museums, libraries and cultural organizations to catalyze community conversations about water’s impact on American culture. The multi-panel exhibit explores water as an essential natural resource that allows us to travel, determines where we live, controls what we eat and drink and inspires culture.

Water is life. It shapes our human culture -our ways of life. It is an essential natural resource that allows us to travel, determines where we live, controls what we eat and drink, and inspires literature, art and music. The Smithsonian’s Water/Ways exhibition dives into water, exploring the relationships between people and water – environmentally, culturally, and historically.

Exhibition themes include:

  • Water and Humanity
  • Where is our Water?
  • What is a Watershed?
  • Availability of Water
  • Harnessing the Power of Water
  • Water as a Critical Resource

Thank you to our Statewide Water/Ways sponsors:

  • National Humanities Center
  • North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences
  • North Carolina Sea Grant
  • NC Water Resources Research Institute
  • Our State Magazine

About Museum on Main Street:

Water/Ways has been made possible in North Carolina by NC Humanities. Water/Ways is part of Museum on Main Street, a collaboration program between the Smithsonian Institution and state humanities councils nationwide that brings exhibitions and programs to small-town communities and residents of rural America. Support for Museum on Main Street has been provided by the United States Congress. Learn more at

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