Smithsonian Traveling Exhibition exploring water’s environmental and cultural impact coming to McCormick

South Carolina News

Water Ways Steering Committee 2019

McCORMICK, S.C. – (McCormick Messenger, McCormick County Chamber of Commerce)

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. McCormick County Chamber of Commerce and Hickory Knob State Resort Park, in cooperation with South Carolina Humanities, will examine water as an environmental necessity and an important cultural element as it hosts “Water/Ways,” a traveling exhibition from the Smithsonian’s Museum on Main Street (MoMS) program. “Water/Ways” will be on view June 27, 2020 through August 2, 2020. 

McCormick County community with Hickory Knob State Resort Park being the host location was expressly chosen by SC Humanities as one of six South Carolina Communities to host “Water/Ways”. The exhibit is a part of the SCH “Museum on Main Street” program – a national/state/local partnership to bring exhibitions and programs to rural cultural organizations. The exhibition will tour six communities in South Carolina from June 27, 2020 through April 17, 2021 with our community being the first tour site. 

“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 has 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 serve 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. 

Dr. Randy Akers, Executive Director of SC Humanities, is pleased to be bringing “Water/Ways” to South Carolina. “SCH is delighted to be sponsoring the Smithsonian traveling exhibit “Water/Ways” throughout the state. It would be hard to find a topic more central to South Carolina. Beyond the obvious fact that water is crucial for human existence, water plays a dominant role in the environment, cultural, economic and historical fabric of South Carolina.”

“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. 

“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. 

The exhibition is part of Museum on Main Street, 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 

Support for MoMS has been provided by the U.S. Congress. Support for the South Carolina tour of “Water/Ways” has been provided by Dominion Energy.

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 

The mission of SC Humanities is to enrich the cultural and intellectual lives of all South Carolinians. Established in 1973, the 501(c)3 organization is governed by a volunteer 20 member Board of Directors comprised of community leaders from throughout the state. It presents and/or supports literary initiatives, lectures, exhibits, festivals, publications, oral history projects, videos and other humanities-based experiences that directly or indirectly reach more than 250,000 citizens annually.

McCormick County Chamber of Commerce and Hickory Knob State Resort Park are excited to bring “Water/Ways” to McCormick. In the coming months more details will be announced, questions can be directed to the McCormick County Chamber of Commerce at or call (864) 852-2835.

This story first appeared in The McCormick Messenger.

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