Smithsonian Exhibit Water/Ways Opens in Georgetown

South Carolina Humanities, in cooperation with the Smithsonian Institute’s Museum on Main Street program, is pleased to present the traveling Smithsonian exhibit Water/Ways in South Carolina. The exhibition dives into water–an essential component of life on our planet, environmentally, culturally, and historically. The exhibit will travel to its third venue in South Carolina at the SC Maritime Museum on Monday, September 28. Water/Ways will be on display at SC Maritime Museum (729 Front St, Georgetown, SC 29440) through Sunday, November 8. Entrance to the exhibit is free. There are several other activities to enjoy in and around Georgetown.

Water is life. It forms our world and our lives. It allows us to travel; and it blocks our paths. It is crucial in determining where we live and work and what we eat and drink. It is an essential biological and natural resource that people struggle to access and control. Water shapes human culture — our ways of life. It is central to many rituals and ceremonies around the world. It inspires art and music. The Smithsonian’s Water/Ways exhibit explores our relationship to water and how all of these factors play out in our world.

Dr. Randy Akers, Executive Director of SC Humanities, said: “SC Humanities is delighted to be sponsoring the Smithsonian traveling exhibit Water/Ways throughout the state.   It would be hard to find a topic more central to South Carolina.   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.”

In addition to the Water/Ways Smithsonian exhibit, the SC Maritime Museum will also present a variety of local programs and events, outlined below. Also take a look at the Georgetown on the Water Trivia Game and Art and Literature contest forms via the blue links below.

SC Humanities advises that the following safety precautions be taken when visiting the exhibit: 1) the City of Georgetown requires that you wear a mask; 2) please sanitize hands (sanitizer will be available at the museum); 3) the number of guests entering the exhibit room may be limited; 4) Practice social distancing, 6 feet apart please; 5) If you’re not feeling well, stay home for the safety of all.

Special Events at the SC Maritime Museum

Georgetown Harbor in a Dynamic Coastal Environment – The Long Story of Keeping it Navigable ​ with Till J.J. Hanebuth, Associate Professor, Department of Coastal & Marine Systems Sciences, Coastal Carolina University
Wednesday, September 16
12 PM
National Estuaries Week: Celebrating Georgetown’s Estuaries and National Estuarine Research Reserve​ with Erik Smith, Manager, North Inlet-Winyah Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve; Research Associate Professor, Baruch Institute for Marine & Coastal Sciences, University of South Carolina
Wednesday, September 23
12 PM
Thomas Jefferson talks Water! The commission of the 1st Atlantic coastal survey, colonial waterways as the nation’s highways, and Lewis and Clark’s water discoveries​ ​with Steve Edenbo as Thomas Jefferson, Actor; Historical Interpreter; Education/Inspirational/Motivational Speaker
Saturday, October 3
12 PM
U.N. Sustainable Development, River Rights, and Local Water Issues​ with Pamela L. Martin, Professor of Politics & International Relations, Coastal Carolina University; Executive Director, Georgetown RISE)
Friday, October 9
12 PM
The Mystery of the Mary Celeste​ with Brian Hicks, Author; Senior Writer/Metro Columnist, Charleston Post & Courier
Wednesday, October 21
12 PM
Beauty from Brokeness-​ Repurposed Jar Lid Flower Making Workshop
Friday, October 23
11 AM


After Water/Ways closes in Georgetown, it will travel to three other venues in South Carolina: Congaree National Park with the support of Friends of Congaree Swamp (November 13, 2020 – January 13, 2021); the McClellanville Arts Council (January 18 – March 1, 2021), and the Historic Railway Depot in Westminster (March 6 – April 17, 2021). Previously, it was on display at Hickory Knob State Park in McCormick County from June 27 – August 8 and the Hampton County Library with the support of the Hampton County Historical Society from August 14 – September 23.

Water/Ways is a 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 Museum on Main Street has been provided by the U.S. Congress. Support for the South Carolina tour of Water/Ways has been provided by Dominion Energy.

Image: Sailboat Camp, Courtesy of the SC Maritime Museum