News release: Smithsonian Water/Ways exhibit tells stories of importance of water in lives of people, planet

News Release
June 22, 2016

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Smithsonian Water/Ways exhibit tells stories of importance of water in lives of people, planet

A new traveling exhibit from the Smithsonian Institution focusing on the relationships between people and water will make its Minnesota debut when Water/Ways opens at Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center near New London/Spicer on Saturday, June 25.

The exhibit is being brought to Minnesota by the Minnesota Humanities Center in partnership with the Minnesota Department of Health, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, Minnesota Historical Society, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Minnesota Section of the American Water Works Association and six communities in greater Minnesota.

An opening ceremony, featuring speakers from the several partner organizations, will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday, June 25, at Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center.

Water/Ways is a free traveling exhibit that reveals the central nature of water in our lives—how water connects us through our current stories, our history, faith, ethics, the arts and science. It explores how Americans use water, how water unites communities, how water affects every element of life and how Americans care for our water and protect this valuable resource for the future, while seeking active solutions to real water problems.

As part of the Water/Ways exhibit, a companion exhibit, We are Water MN, has been developed to tell the Minnesota story and will accompany the traveling exhibit. We are Water MN is an interactive story-collecting exhibit that focuses on individuals’ relationships with and responsibilities to water. The exhibit raises awareness about the quantity and quality of Minnesota’s water, connecting exhibit-goers to active water solutions. The Minnesota Department of Health’s mission to protect, maintain and improve the health of all Minnesotans is weaved throughout the exhibit. 

Minnesota is one of only five states chosen by the Smithsonian to launch this new traveling exhibit. It is specially designed for viewing in smaller, rural communities and will visit six Minnesota communities in 2016 and 2017. Through the Water/Ways traveling exhibit each host community will tell its local water stories and envision the future of water. The Minnesota host sites for Water/Ways are:

  • New London/Spicer (Kandiyohi County), Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center.
    June 25 – Aug. 7, 2016
  • St. Peter (Nicollet County), Nicollet County Historical Society, Aug. 13 – Sept. 25, 2016
  • Red Wing (Goodhue County), Goodhue County Historical Society, Oct. 1 – Nov. 13, 2016
  • Sandstone (Pine County), Audubon Center of the North Woods, Nov. 19, 2016 – Jan. 1, 2017
  • Lanesboro (Fillmore County), Lanesboro Arts, Jan. 7 – Feb. 19, 2017
  • Detroit Lakes (Becker County), Becker County Historical Society, Feb. 25 – Apr. 9, 2017

The public can participate in the conversation to raise awareness of water on social media at #wearewatermn. For more information about exhibit host sites, the opening ceremony, tour dates and community activities, visit Minnesota Humanities Center - Water/Ways.


Media inquiries:

Doug Schultz
MDH Communications