Smithsonian In Georgetown

Smithsonian traveling exhibit coming to South Carolina’s Maritime Museum in Georgetown

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 also inspires art and music.

The South Carolina Maritime Museum, in cooperation with South Carolina Humanities, 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. In 2020, “Water/Ways” will be on view from Sept. 8- Nov. 8 in Georgetown. 

“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.

“Water is an important part of everyone’s life and we are excited to explore what it means and has meant economically, culturally, socially and spiritually in our own community,” said Susan Davis, SCMM board member. “We will host conversations about water and develop local exhibitions and public programs to compliment the Smithsonian exhibition. A collaborative committee has been formed that is working to plan many special community events that will begin in the spring of 2020 and lead up to the opening of the exhibit.”

Dr. Randy Akers, executive director of SC Humanities, said he’s pleased to be bringing “Water/Ways” to South Carolina.

“It would be hard to find a topic more central to South Carolina,” Ayers said. “Beyond the obvious fact that water is crucial for human existence, water plays a dominant role in the environmental, cultural, economic and historical fabric of South Carolina.”

The SC Maritime Museum is a perfect fit as host of this unique event as its mission is the promotion and preservation of the water and maritime culture and history of Georgetown County and the surrounding region, known as the Hammock Coast.

“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 participate 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. 

Support for MoMS has been provided by the U.S. Congress. Support for the South Carolina tour of “Water/Ways” has been provided by Dominion Energy.

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 mission of SC Humanities is to enrich the cultural and intellectual lives of all South Carolinians. Established in 1973, this 501(c) 3 organization is governed by a volunteer 20-member Board of Directors comprised of community leaders from throughout the state. It presents and/or supports literary initiatives, lectures, exhibits, festivals, publications, oral history projects, videos and other humanities-based experiences that directly or indirectly reach more than 250,000 citizens annually.

The South Carolina Maritime Museum is located at 729 Front St. in historic Georgetown. The museum is open every day except Sunday from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. Admission is free. Further information on exhibits and events can be found at

Collaborative organizations for Water/Ways: Georgetown County Chamber of Commerce and South Carolina’s Hammock Coast, Georgetown County Library System, Waccamaw Riverkeepers, Georgetown Business Association, Gullah Geechee Chamber of Commerce, Hobcaw Barony, Coastal Carolina Department of Marine Systems Science, Georgetown Innovation Center, North Inlet-Winyah Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, YMCA of Georgetown County, and the City of Georgetown.