Smithsonian Exhibit Water/Ways Opens in McCormick

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 have its public opening in South Carolina at Hickory Knob State Park, hosted by the McCormick County Chamber of Commerce, on Saturday, June 27. Water/Ways will be on display in the Great Lodge Room (1591 Resort Dr, McCormick, SC 29835) through Saturday, August 8. Entrance to the park and to the exhibit is free. There are several other activities to enjoy in and around McCormick County.

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, McCormick County will also present a local exhibit at Hickory Knob State Park. Clemson Extension has created an interactive, augmented reality sandbox that allows visitors to create actual topographic models by shaping sand, educating about how topography and land-forms impact our watershed. The sandbox uses sensors and specialized computer software to allow visitors to visualize the topographic contour lines when changes are made in the sand in real time.  Clemson staff member Jaime Pohlman led this project with assistance from Marty King, Stephen Pohlman, and Clemson computer science major Joseph Barron.

The McCormick County Chamber of Commerce advises that the following safety precautions be taken when visiting the exhibit: 1) SC State Parks are requiring masks when inside “any state park facility staffed by employees or where the general public may congregate,” which includes the Great Lodge Room; 2) All guests to the exhibit will be asked to sanitize hands at the hand sanitizer station before entering the exhibit; 3) To interact with the local exhibit, gloves will be required, which will be available at the entrance of the interactive sandbox; 4) Hickory Knob may limit the number of guests allowed in the great room; 5) Practice social distancing, 6 feet apart please; 6) If you’re not feeling well, stay home for the safety of all.

After Water/Ways closes in McCormick, it will travel to five other venues in South Carolina: the Hampton County Library with the support of the Hampton County Historical Society (August 13 – September 23, 2020); the SC Maritime Museum in Georgetown (September 28 – November 8, 2020); 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).

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. In McCormick County, Water/Ways is hosted by the McCormick County Chamber of Commerce, Hickory Knob State Park, and McCormick County Historical Commission with support from Gold Level sponsor Little River Electric Cooperative, Inc.; Silver Level sponsor Spratlin & Son Construction; and Bronze Level sponsors McCormick County, McCormick County Water and Sewer Department, CPW, and Historic McCormick.



Image: Lake Thurmond at sunset, courtesy of the McCormick County Chamber of Commerce