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Smithsonian’s “Water/Ways” exhibition begins new tour May 29

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. The exhibition opens at the first site on the tour, Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve’s Wetlands Acadian Cultural Center in Thibodaux, on Saturday, May 29. The full schedule for the tour can be found below.


The Smithsonian’s Museum on Main Street program brings high quality traveling exhibitions and educational programs to rural audiences and small museums. As the Smithsonian’s partner in Louisiana, the LEH works with rural museums to leverage these exhibitions to build community capacity and highlight meaningful local contributions to small town life.


During its first tour in 2018 and 2019, provided Louisiana communities a new way to explore the myriad ways water affects residents’ lives. The exhibition is the centerpiece of a statewide initiative by the LEH to increase public understanding of the issues facing Louisiana’s coastal communities.


2021–22 Tour Schedule


The exhibition covers a number of themes, including water as a critical resource, harnessing the power of water, climate and water, and more. Made up of a series of free-standing panels and digital interactives, it is designed to be a springboard for local exhibitions and complementary humanities programming.


The exhibition tour scholar, who will support sites in developing local programming, 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 MD and Helen B. Burdin/Board of Regents Endowed Professorship in Louisiana Studies at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.


Since 1994, Museum on Main Street exhibitions from the Smithsonian have been designed specifically for use in small museum settings and in rural communities. Covering topics of broad national interest such as sports, food traditions, and work history, among other themes, Museum on Main Street exhibitions are between 600 and 850 square feet in size, free-standing and include objects in cases, interactive components, and audio and video presentations. Supporting materials include marketing tools, lesson plans, and training manuals.


This tour of Water/Ways 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.