The Smithsonian’s Water/Ways exhibition dives into water--an essential component of life on our planet, environmentally, culturally, and historically.

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 As part of its next thematic initiative, Indiana Humanities will sponsor a tour of the Smithsonian’s Water/Ways exhibition. Applications are now open to host the exhibit in 2021-2022. 

Water/Ways has been made possible in Indiana by Indiana Humanities. Water/Ways is part of Museum on Main Street, a collaboration between the Smithsonian Institution and state humanities councils nationwide. Support for Museum on Main Street has been provided by the United States Congress.

Water/Ways was adapted from 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 Museum on Main Street program works with rural communities to design and host high-quality exhibits and create dynamic public programs across the United States. Indiana is proud to bring this award-winning program to six sites in Indiana over the next two years.  

The Smithsonian’s Water/Ways exhibition dives into water–an essential component of life on our planet, environmentally, culturally, and historically. Learn more about exhibit content here.  

Six communities will be selected to host the exhibit for six weeks each, and receive extensive training, funding and other resources from the expert staffs of the Smithsonian and Indiana Humanities. Each of the six hosts will also curate a unique section of the exhibit that tells explores their community’s relationship to water. 

About the Exhibition

The Smithsonian’s Water/Ways exhibition dives into water–an essential component of life on our planet, environmentally, culturally, and historically. 

In societies across the globe, water serves as a source of peace and contemplation. Many faiths revere water as a sacred symbol. Authors and artists are inspired by the complex character of water – a substance that is seemingly soft and graceful that is yet a powerful and nearly unstoppable force. 

Water also plays a practical role in American society. The availability of water affected settlement and migration patterns. Access to water and control of water resources have long been a central part of political and economic planning. Human creativity and resourcefulness provide new ways of protecting water resources and renewing respect for the natural environment.

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How to Apply

To apply to host Water/Ways please fill out the application form below, due Sept. 18, 2020. Finalists to host the exhibit may be contacted the week of Oct. 12, 2020 for an interview. All applicants will be notified of the final decision by Oct. 23, 2020 

Please note: The application form does not allow you to save your responses. We recommend working on the application questions in a separate document, then pasting them into the form when ready to submit.  

Apply Here

Water/Ways is open to any tax-exempt organization in Indiana, including museums, libraries, civic organizations, local governments or schools. Host organizations must be located in towns of 15,000 or fewer residents. Host venues must be open at least 30 hours a week during the exhibit, including hours on the weekend, and be able to provide a secure space of at least 750 square feet with at least two electrical outlets to host the exhibit.

Venue 1: June 26, 2021 – August 8, 2021

Venue 2: August 14, 2021 – September 26, 2021

Venue 3: October 2, 2021 – November 14, 2021

Venue 4: November 20, 2021 – December 30, 2021

Venue 5: January 8, 2022 – February 20, 2022

Venue 6: February 26, 2022 – April 10, 2022


The six sites selected to host the exhibit receive:

  • Free rental of Smithsonian’s Water/Ways exhibit 
  • Exhibit support manual, program guide and curriculum materials 
  • Assistance in exhibition and program planning from Smithsonian and Indiana Humanities team members, as well as consultants  
  • Publicity materials such as posters, brochures, a media kit, etc. 
  • $2,000 in funding from Indiana Humanities to develop the local companion exhibit, for events and to spread the word 
  • One talk by an expert from a speakers bureau curated by Indiana Humanities 
  • Statewide publicity and promotion 

The six sites selected to host the exhibit agree to:

  • Pay a one-time $200 fee to offset shipping costs 
  • Assign a project director for the exhibit who will attend two statewide planning meetings and coordinate the project from beginning to end 
  • Implement publicity in your local community and region in coordination with Indiana Humanities 
  • Produce a local companion exhibit and host at least three public humanities programs related to the exhibit themes 
  • Host a grand opening/ribbon cutting and invite public officials, media, legislators and others 
  • Provide a final budget and cost share report tracking all staff and volunteer time, facility expenses and other donated resources 
  • Provide a secure, dry space to store empty exhibit crates for the duration of the exhibition 
  • Contribute hard work and cover additional out-of-pocket expenses beyond $2,000 as needed 




Contact Megan Telligman, Senior Program Manager
Mtelligman@indianahumanities.org | 317.616.9409