Smithsonian’s Water/Ways Exhibit in Museums Around Oklahoma

The Smithsonian’s Water/Ways exhibition dives into water – an essential component of life on our planet, environmentally, culturally, and historically. From now through April, Oklahomans can take in the exhibit in different museums around the state.

In societies across the globe, water serves as a source of peace and contemplation. Many faiths revere water as a sacred symbol. Authors and artists are inspired by the complex character of water – a substance that is seemingly soft and graceful that is yet a powerful and nearly unstoppable force.

Water also plays a practical role in American society. The availability of water affected settlement and migration patterns. Access to water and control of water resources have long been a central part of political and economic planning. Human creativity and resourcefulness provide new ways of protecting water resources and renewing respect for the natural environment.

Water/Ways can be seen at the following dates and locations in Oklahoma:

NormanPioneer Library System Foundation06/29/1908/18/19
AdaAda Public Library08/26/1910/13/19
Locust GroveLocust Grove Arts Alliance10/21/1912/08/19
HeavenerHeavener Runestone Park12/16/1902/09/20
AltusMuseum of the Western Prairie02/17/2004/12/20

From above, Earth appears as a water planet with more than 71 percent of its surface covered with this vital resource for life. Water impacts climate, agriculture, transportation, industry and more. It inspires art and music. “Water/Ways,” a traveling exhibition from the Smithsonian’s Museum on Main Street (MoMS) program, examines water as an environmental necessity and an important cultural element.

All of the water currently on the planet is all that there will ever be. Through the water cycle it is in endless motion on Earth’s surface, below ground and in the atmosphere. “Water/Ways” explores this cycle, water’s effect on landscape, settlement and migration, and its impact on culture and spirituality. It looks at how political and economic planning have long been affected by access to water and control of water resources. Human creativity and resourcefulness provide new ways of protecting water resources and renewing respect for the natural environment.

Designed for small-town museums, libraries and cultural organizations, “Water/Ways” serves as a community meeting place to convene conversations about water’s impact on American culture. With the support and guidance of state humanities councils, these towns will develop complementary exhibits, host public programs and facilitate educational initiatives to raise people’s understanding about what water means culturally, socially and spiritually in their own community.

“Water/Ways” is part of the Smithsonian’s Think Water Initiative to raise awareness of water as a critical resource for life through exhibitions, educational resources and public programs. The public can participate in the conversation on social media at #thinkWater.

MoMS was created to serve museums, libraries and historical societies in rural areas, where one-fifth of all Americans live. The partnership with the state humanities councils was formed as a creative response to the challenge faced by these rural museums to enhance their own cultural legacies. Major funding for MoMS has been provided by the U.S. Congress.

State humanities councils located in each state and U.S. territory support community-based humanities programs that highlight such topics as local history, literature and cultural traditions.

SITES has been sharing the wealth of Smithsonian collections and research programs with millions of people outside Washington, D.C., for 65 years. SITES connects Americans to their shared cultural heritage through a wide range of exhibitions about art, science and history, which are shown wherever people live, work and play. For exhibition description and tour schedules, visit

For more information about specific exhibit locations, please contact the host organization via the links above.

Tag(s): water

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