Water/Ways

Bring the Smithsonian to your community – apply to host Water/Ways!

Water/Ways is a portable exhibition developed by the Smithsonian’s Museum on Main Street program that explores how water shapes our ways of life. Easy-to-install, Water/Ways was especially designed for sites with limited access to traveling exhibitions. The exhibit will tour six New Jersey communities from July 2019 to April 2020.

Applications are closed.

More information about the exhibit is available at www.museumonmainstreet.org.

If you would like more information about Water/Ways please contact Jason Allen, Director of Community Engagement, at jallen@njch.org or 609.695.4838 ext. 220.

Water’s impact on humans is not just biological and environmental; it also serves as a source of conflict, peace, economic development, and artistic inspiration. This exhibit examines these topics and provides an opportunity to tell your water story as well. When it comes to the subject of water, the humanities can…

  • Provide insights and new perspectives on your community’s water challenges.
  • Explore ethical questions and cultural attitudes related to water stewardship.
  • Use history and memories to understand the forces that shape our current water use.
  • Preserve and celebrate local traditions that make your community unique and vital.

Water/Ways does not advocate any specific policies or actions regarding contemporary water issues. Instead, the exhibit illuminates the complexity our relationship with this natural resource, providing visitors a chance to reflect and engage.

Each host organization will display the exhibit for a period of six weeks. Hosts will also produce companion exhibits and programming linking the subject matter of the national exhibit to the history, culture, and concerns of their New Jersey communities. Sites will be chosen for geographic location, strength of proposed ideas for additional programs, and suitability of physical display space.

Museums, nature centers, historic sites, libraries and other non-profit organizations are welcome to apply. Host sites must demonstrate the physical capacity to host the exhibition.

The exhibit must be displayed in a permanently enclosed interior space that is not a hallway, corridor, or passageway. The exhibit must be under continuous surveillance during public hours and locked when it is not open to the public.

Site requirements:

  • 800 square feet of space and 9 foot ceilings
  • No direct sunlight in the exhibit space
  • Exhibit space temperature must be maintained at less than 80 degrees
  • Access to standard electrical outlets
  • Handicap accessible with bathroom facilities for visitors
  • At least 25 hours per week of public operating hours
  • 100 feet of storage space for exhibition crates

Host sites must:

  • Provide a staff member or volunteer who will serve as the project’s director and attend two NJCH Water/Ways workshops and an evaluation meeting.
  • Develop and present supplemental programming and activities in their community during the exhibit.
  • Track and report the value of the time, services, and materials your organization spent, donated,or received to host on the project.
  • Give project evaluation results at the close of the exhibit.

All host sites will receive from the New Jersey Council for the Humanities:

  • Free exhibit rental
  • Publicity materials such as posters, press kits, and banner
  • An Exhibitor Kit covering installation, publicity, development, and education materials
  • A humanities scholar to help research, plan, advise, or present your exhibition and programming
  • $2,500 in grant support for related programming efforts, such as a companion exhibit, interactive programs, film or book series, oral history projects, and community forums
  • Free exhibit shipping
  • Two days of training in exhibit installation and program development
  • Wall-to-wall fine art insurance coverage, with standard exclusions, for the exhibit during both transit and display.

Host sites must create community-specific exhibits and/or programs about what water means to their local economy, government, culture, history, environment, and residents. With the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the Delaware River on the other, New Jersey provides many opportunities to explore water-related themes.

Applying host sites should think about how to tell their community’s own water story, the role water has played and does play in their community, and how water shapes the community’s worldview: What are your Water/Ways?

Programs and exhibits become dynamic when members of the community are invited to actively engage as participants and collaborators. NJCH strongly encourages host sites to involve community members and underrepresented audiences in program planning. Organizations might engage the community by working with them to determine the site’s exhibit or program topics, involve them in design and fabrication, or enlist their help with PR and further outreach. We also encourage programs that allow community members to contribute content, share ideas, and express themselves.

With its unusual blend of history, literature, nature, and science, Water/Ways provides opportunities to engage new audiences and partners for your organization. A historical society might collaborate with an environmental organization to explore the impact of New Jersey’s changing economy on a local waterway. A shore community library might sponsor poetry readings on the beach to engage summer visitors and deepen their experience of the place. Used creatively, Water/Ways will offer fresh perspectives and exciting possibilities.

Applications are closed.

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