Smithsonian Traveling Exhibition Coming to Tennessee

June 6, 2017  |  Permalink

The “Water|Ways” exhibit will be on view at select Tennessee State Parks from June 24, 2017 to April 1, 2018

STATEWIDE, TENNESSEE - 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. Select Tennessee State Parks, in cooperation with Humanities Tennessee, 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 in Tennessee from June 24, 2017 to April 1, 2018.

Six Tennessee State Parks and surrounding communities have been expressly chosen by Humanities Tennessee to host “Water|Ways”:

Warriors' Path State Park (June 24-Aug. 6, 2017)
Hiwassee/Ocoee State Park (Aug. 12-Sept. 24, 2017)
Pickwick Landing State Park (Sept. 30-Nov. 12, 2017)
Johnsonville State Historic Park (Nov. 18-Dec. 31, 2017)
Reelfoot Lake State Park (Jan. 6-Feb. 18, 2018)
Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park (Feb. 24-Apr. 1, 2018) 

“Tennessee State Parks are the gateway to water recreation and conservation for many Tennesseans,” said Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation Deputy Commissioner of Parks and Conservation Brock Hill. “The miles of rivers and streams, dozens of lakes, and many waterfalls within our state parks are deeply linked to the individual character of each park and the nearby communities and we invite visitors to come explore this exhibit and the water recreation opportunities our state parks offer.”


“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.


With support from Humanities Tennessee, exhibit hosts will develop complementary 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 we are excited to explore what it means culturally, socially and spiritually in our own community,” said Tim Henderson, Humanities Tennessee Executive Director. “We want to convene conversations about water and have developed local exhibits and public programs to compliment the Smithsonian exhibition.” Such free events include collecting local water stories, discussions of the history and future of water conservation, kids' activities, and art competitions. 


“Water|Ways” 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. The Tennessee tour of “Water|Ways” and accompanying public events are sponsored by Humanities Tennessee and funded in part by generous support from BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Health Foundation.


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About Humanities Tennessee: 

Founded in 1973, Humanities Tennessee is an independent, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to developing a sense of community through literature, history, and culture programs and grants across Tennessee. The organization also serves as the Tennessee Center for the Book, an affiliate of the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress. Find out more at


About Tennessee State Parks:

As stewards of park resources, the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation seeks to manage Tennessee's state parks in order to conserve and promote natural, cultural and historic resources, and provide a variety of quality outdoor recreational experiences. From its beginning in 1937, Tennessee State Parks were established to protect and preserve the unique natural, cultural and historic resources of Tennessee. The public interest has been served by a variety of benefits for residents and visitors produced by the state park system: promotion of stronger communities and healthier individuals across the state through diverse resource-based recreation; conservation of the natural environment to benefit public health; and preservation of authentic Tennessee places and spaces for future generations to enjoy. 

About the author

Kim Schofinski