Smithsonian Traveling Exhibition Exploring Water’s Environmental And Cultural Impact Coming To Valentine

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Date: June 4, 2018
Contact: Kristen Maxfield, 402-376-1901

VALENTINE, NE – 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. The Niobrara National Scenic River (NSR), in cooperation with Humanities Nebraska, 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 at the Niobrara NSR Visitor Center from June 23 through August 3rd, 2018.

Niobrara NSR and the surrounding community have been expressly chosen by Humanities Nebraska to host “Water/Ways” as part of the 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 Nebraska from June 2018 through April 2019.

“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.

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.

“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 Kristen Maxfield, Chief of Interpretation & Education at Niobrara NSR. “We want to convene conversations about water and have developed local exhibitions and public programs to compliment the Smithsonian exhibition.” Such free events include “Splash!” a water symposium that will be held on July 28th, from noon until 4:00 p.m. at the Mid-Plains Community College. The symposium will feature guest speakers from across the state who will discuss cultural and practical local water issues, as well as fun activities for adults and children.

 “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 participated 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.

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 Niobrara NSR Visitor Center is located at 214 West Highway 20 in Valentine. Summer hours are from 8:30 p.m. until 4:30 p.m. Central time. For more information, please call 402-376-1901, email e-mail us or visit

For more information about Humanities Nebraska, please call 402-474-2131, email, or visit

Niobrara National Scenic River is one of over 400 National Park Sites protected by the American people so that all may experience our heritage. Experience your America - Explore your National Parks. Visit us at, or on Facebook National Scenic River.

Full Water/Ways Nebraska Tour:
June 23 - August 3 at Niobrara National Scenic River Visitor Center in Valentine
August 11 - September 21 at Custer County Museum in Broken Bow
September 29 - November 9 at Bone Creek Museum of Agrarian Art in David City
November 17 - December 21 at Nebraska Prairie Museum in Holdrege
January 5 - February 15, 2019 at Knight Museum and Sandhills Center in Alliance
February 23 - April 7, 2019 at Legacy of the Plains in Gering

Last updated: June 29, 2018

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214 W US Highway 20
Valentine, NE 69201


(402) 376-1901

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