VFH Brings Smithsonian Traveling Exhibition to Virginia

Culture & Identity  •  News

Dudley Biddlecomb and Peter Hedlund, participants in VFH’s Virginia Folklife Apprenticeship Program passing on the traditions of oyster aquaculture -  Photo by Pat Jarrett.
Dudley Biddlecomb and Peter Hedlund, participants in VFH’s Virginia Folklife Apprenticeship Program passing on the traditions of oyster aquaculture - Photo by Pat Jarrett.

Cape Charles, Fredericksburg, Newport News, Staunton, Warsaw, and Winchester

Exhibitions to Be Hosted in Cape Charles, Fredericksburg, Newport News, Staunton, Warsaw, and Winchester

Virginia Foundation for the Humanities (VFH), in cooperation with the Virginia Association of Museums (VAM) and six organizations across the state, will help Virginians examine water as an environmental necessity and an important cultural element through “Water/Ways,” a traveling exhibition from the Smithsonian’s Museum on Main Street (MoMS) program.

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. With VFH funding, the “Water/Ways” exhibition will explore this essential topic in six Virginia communities from May 2017 through May 2018:

May 27, 2017 – July 9, 2017
Virginia Living Museum
Newport News, VA

July 15, 2017 – August 27, 2017
Menokin Foundation
Warsaw, VA

September 2, 2017 – October 15, 2017
Cape Charles Historical Society
Cape Charles, VA

October 21, 2017 – December 3, 2017
Frontier Culture Museum of Virginia
Staunton, VA

December 9, 2017 – January 21, 2018
Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum
Winchester, VA

January 27, 2018 – March 11, 2018
Fredericksburg Area Museum and Cultural Center
Fredericksburg, VA

These organizations and their surrounding communities have been chosen by VFH and VAM to host “Water/Ways” as part of the MoMS program—a national/state/local partnership to bring exhibitions and programs to rural cultural organizations. “Water/Ways” explores the endless motion of the water 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” will convene conversations about water’s impact on American culture. With support and guidance from VAM, the six host organizations will develop complementary exhibits, host public programs, and facilitate educational initiatives to raise people’s understanding about what water means in their own community.

“Water is an important part of everyone’s life, and this program will help Virginians explore what water means culturally, socially, and spiritually in our communities,” said VFH’s incoming executive director Matthew Gibson. “We look forward to seeing how each host organization leverages the exhibition to share their own stories and explore their own challenges.”

“VAM and the VFH have hosted several Museum on Main Street exhibitions over the years, and we are excited to do so again through Water/Ways,” said VAM executive director Jennifer Thomas. “MoMS gives smaller museums the chance to benefit from the expertise and collections of the Smithsonian and reach out into their communities in new ways. The topic this time, water, is a critical one for Virginia’s population.”

“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.

About Water/Ways, MoMS, and SITES

“Water/Ways” was inspired by an exhibition organized by the American Museum of Natural History, New York, and the Science Museum of Minnesota, St. Paul, in collaboration with Great Lakes Science Center, Cleveland; The Field Museum, Chicago; Instituto Sangari, Sao Paulo, Brazil; National Museum of Australia, Canberra; Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, Canada; San Diego Natural History Museum; and Science Centre Singapore with PUB Singapore. See attached graphic identity and press images.

The exhibition is part of Museum on Main Street (MoMS), a unique collaboration between the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES), state humanities councils across the nation, and local host institutions. To learn more about “Water/Ways” and other Museum on Main Street exhibitions, visit https://museumonmainstreet.org/. Support for MoMS has been provided by the U.S. Congress.

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 http://www.sites.si.edu/.

About VFH

The mission of Virginia Foundation for the Humanities (VFH) is to connect people and ideas to explore the human experience and inspire cultural engagement. VFH reaches an estimated annual audience of 23 million through community programs, websites and digital initiatives, grants and fellowships, radio programs and podcasts, the Virginia Folklife Program, and the Virginia Center for the Book. To learn more, visit VirginiaHumanities.org.

About VAM

Virginia Association of Museums (VAM) is the largest state museum service organization in the U.S., with more than 2000 members. VAM provides professional and career development for museum professionals, state and federal museum advocacy, and tools for museums facing 21st-century challenges. A network of museum staff and volunteers working together to promote professionalism in the field, VAM improves the stewardship of our historic and cultural heritage. To learn more, visit VAMuseums.org.