Smithsonian Water/Ways Exhibit Resounding Success

The Lake Hopatcong Foundation, in cooperation with the New Jersey Council for the Humanities, hosted the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition, “Water/Ways,” an exploration of water’s environmental and cultural impact. The exhibition was on display at the Lake Hopatcong Foundation Environmental and Cultural Center from July 1 through August 10.

During the six-week showing, more than 700 people came through the Environmental and Cultural Center to experience the exhibition. The majority of visitors (75%) were residents of local towns, but many came from out of state and even as far away as Korea, Denmark, Peru, and Spain!

Through a selection of photographs, objects, film, audio, and interactives, “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.

“Watching the way different people were drawn into different aspects of the exhibit really showcased how deeply humanity is connected with water, and how it resonates with us in a variety of ways. Some visitors zeroed in on the environmental implications, others were visibly moved by the cultural interpretations. We had children who were mesmerized by the video about snowflakes, and wowed by the number of gallons of water it takes to generate a pound of chocolate. We had adults who found themselves reflecting on water’s impact on the power grid, and humming along to “Wade in the Water.” Universally, people were captivated and engaged in the topic of water and all its facets, which was a joy to witness over the six weeks we hosted the MoMS Water/Ways exhibition,” said Lake Hopatcong Foundation President Jessica Murphy.

Some comments expressed in the visitor’s log include: “Very cool. We all must be aware of our responsibility with water.” “Love this exhibit! Eye-opening!” “Very Informative exhibit. Beautiful presentation pieces.” “Expanded my understanding of water’s importance.” “So much information in so little space – a wonderful exhibit.”

Complementary local programs were held in conjunction with “Water/Ways,” including the Wild & Scenic Film Festival on Tour held at the Palace Theatre in Netcong and the community conversation, “What is YOUR Water Story,” held at the Mount Arlington Public Library.

“We’re thrilled with the community’s response to ‘Water/Ways’,” said Lake Hopatcong Foundation Grants and Program Director Donna Macalle-Holly. “By working with the New Jersey Council for the Humanities, we have been able to offer a wide variety of educational programs for the entire community. We hope to build on these experiences with future program plans.”

The exhibition was free and open to the public. Viewing hours were available daily from 10 am – 4 pm, with evening hours from 4 – 8 pm Thursday and Friday, and Saturday hours from 11 am – 3 pm.

“The Foundation would like to express our appreciation to all who aided in the setup and break down the exhibit, as well as the 43 volunteer docents who gave their time and support,” said Lake Hopatcong Foundation Communications Director Holly Odgers. “We have such amazing and supportive volunteers. Without their assistance, we would not have been able to offer evening and weekend viewing hours through the six-week showing.”

The Water/Ways exhibition is part of Museum on Main Street (MoMS), a unique collaboration between the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES), and the New Jersey Council for the Humanities. 

Support for MoMS has been provided by the U.S. Congress. The exhibit is sponsored by the New Jersey Council for the Humanities.

Funding for this exhibition was made possible by a grant from the New Jersey Council for the Humanities, a state partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities.


Categories: Events, Lake Hopatcong Foundation, LHF Environmental and Cultural Center, News, Water Quality