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Smithsonian’s Museums on Main Street to return to Louisiana

LEH accepting applications for 202122 Museum on Main Street Water/Ways traveling exhibition

The Smithsonian Institution and the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities have partnered to bring a new tour of the powerful Museum on Main Street exhibition “Water/Ways” to Louisiana. During its first tour in 2018 and 2019, “Water/Ways” provided Louisiana communities a new way to explore the myriad ways water affects residents’ lives.

The exhibition will arrive in Louisiana in May 2021 for a yearlong tour that stops in six sites, ending in March 2022.  The tour scholar is Dr. Liz Skilton, assistant professor of history and author of “Tempest: Hurricane Naming and American Culture” (LSU Press, 2019). Dr. Skilton holds the J.J. Burdin M.D. and Helen B. Burdin/Board of Regents Endowed Professorship in Louisiana Studies at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. This marks the ninth time that the LEH has partnered with the Smithsonian Institution and Louisiana communities to host a Museum on Main Street tour.

The 2021–22 Water/Ways tour in Louisiana is made possible by a grant from BHP. The exhibition is the centerpiece of a statewide initiative by the LEH to increase public understanding of the issues facing Louisiana’s coastal communities.

Museums, libraries, community centers, nature centers, and other cultural nonprofit organizations in towns of fewer than 20,000 residents may apply to host the exhibition. Final selection is conducted in partnership with the tour scholar and Louisiana Main Street, a division of the state’s Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism. The grant amount is $5,000 per site, and the deadline to apply is June 12, 2020.

Eligible applicants must meet the following requirements:

  • Site is open at least 5 days a week
  • Site is in a town with fewer than 20,000 residents
  • Site must offer at minimum 6 free public programs, such as lectures, oral history collection, film screening and discussion, reading and discussion, etc., in conjunction with exhibition
  • Site can accommodate exhibition measuring 650 square feet, with at least 8-foot, 6-inch ceiling height
  • Site can house 20 shipping crates (either on-site, or off) during length of exhibition, requiring roughly 150-200 square feet
  • Arrange for shipping of crates
  • Attendance by two staff members who will serve as the site project director and assistant director for the duration of the project at the LEH/Smithsonian-led content and installation training workshops to be held in fall 2020 and spring 2021 respectively
  • Site must ensure robust community participation through partnerships and publicity
  • NOTE: as per funder stipulations, 4 coastal sites and 2 inland sites will be awarded
  • NOTE: awarded sites will be encouraged to match funds through cash and in-kind cost share

Applicants can visit our site for access to the LOI. For questions about Water/Ways, please contact LEH Grants Manager Chris Robert at [email protected].

For more information and resources, visit the Museum on Main Street website.

This exhibition tour is made possible by the BHP-funded project “Coastal Impacts: An Integrated Approach for Community Adaptation, Understanding, and Planning,” which assists local communities to build intergenerational coastal literacy through community conversations around books, film and exhibitions, fostering greater understanding of and support for coastal restoration projects.