The Michigan Humanities(MH) is pleased to announce the selected host sites for a 2017-2018 tour of a national Smithsonian Institution exhibition throughout Michigan. Water/Ways is a unique exhibit that explores the essential role that water plays in our environment and society. Throughout the globe, water holds extensive cultural value as a symbol of power and force, grace and fluidity, and healing and cleansing. Water is also a natural resource that has dictated migration patterns, affected economic prosperity, and shaped communities throughout time, and continues to be one of Earth’s most defining resources. Here in Michigan, the value of water as both a human resource and a cultural symbol is both understood and treasured, and we are thrilled to be bringing this exhibit to the Great Lakes state.

“Water and its story in Michigan is a fascinating theme, and we are delighted to work with six sites to bring to life the Smithsonian Exhibit Water/Ways,” said Shelly Hendrick Kasprzycki, Executive Director of Michigan Humanities.  “This exhibit and the programs that go with it will explore how water plays such a role in all our lives in Michigan.”

Host sites will complement the exhibit with public programming focused on the local history of water for each area. This may include development of an additional exhibit, discussion programs or community-based documentaries. The Michigan Humanities supports host communities with grant funds, program planning workshops and tour logistics.

A statewide Great Lakes-specific exhibit will also travel to each host location, as part of The Great Lakes Water Heritage Project, offered by The Office of the Great Lakes, Michigan Humanities, Cranbrook Institute of Science, Kalamazoo Nature Center, and Michigan State University. It will feature regional and local Great Lakes history, facts, and simple ways for people to be everyday water stewards. A grant from The Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation to Michigan Humanities will support 3 years of funding for this portion of the program.

The Water/Ways exhibit will begin travel in June 2018 and close in April 2019, stopping at each site for a six-week period. Water/Ways is funded by Michigan Humanities and The National Endowment for the Humanities, and sponsored by WATTS.

The six host sites and dates of the exhibit are:

  • Beaver Island (North) Charlevoix County
    Venue: Beaver Island Historical Society
    June 23 – August 5, 2018
  • East Jordan (North) Charlevoix County
    Venue: Raven Hill Discovery Center
    August 11 – September 23, 2018
  • Big Rapids (West Central) Mecosta County
    Venue: Artworks
    September 29 – November 11, 2018
  • Harrisville (East Central) Alcona County
    Venue: Alcona Public Library
    November 17 – December 30, 2018
  • Niles (Southwest) Berrien County
    Venue: Niles Public Library
    January 5 – February 17, 2019
  • Owosso (East Central) Shiawassee County
    Venue: Shiawassee Arts Center
    February 23 – April 7, 2019


About Museum on Main Street / Smithsonian Traveling Exhibits

The mission of Museum on Main Street is to provide access to the Smithsonian for small-town America. Museum on Main Street engages small-town audiences and brings attention to underserved rural communities.

To build grassroots participation, Museum on Main Street works with state humanities councils and more than 1,400 institutions in rural towns across the nation. For these communities (with an average population of 8,000), the opportunity to work with the Smithsonian is much more than a quality educational experience. Through community programs and creative activities, Museum on Main Street exhibitions and research are a launching point for storytelling and local pride. Constantly evolving digital projects, such as the Stories from Main Street collecting portal and the digital student history initiative, are bringing more of the Smithsonian’s resources to people in small towns across the nation.

 About the Michigan Humanities

The Michigan Humanities connects people and communities by fostering and creating quality cultural programs.

In carrying out its mission, the Council encourages and supports, through advocacy, fundraising and community engagement, a variety of activities which bring humanities scholars and the public together to examine culture. Moving forward, the Council will:

  • award grants for public humanities and cultural programs;
  • conduct public humanities and cultural projects of statewide importance;
  • initiate collaborations and partnerships to broaden and strengthen the organizational and institutional base for the humanities in Michigan; and
  • provide the humanities with leadership and a public voice in Michigan.

The Michigan Humanities will be known as a unifying force throughout Michigan, whose programs help people connect with one another and the places where they live, by fostering a greater understanding and engagement in the cultures, histories, and values which tell us who we were, are, and hope to be.