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Smithsonian Water/Ways

A traveling exhibition & community engagement initiative of the Smithsonian's Museum on Main Street program that explores the centrality of water in our lives.

Join us in Lanesboro for Water/Ways January 7th through February 19th!

In Minnesota, water is a part of our identity, our culture, and our history. Water/Ways, a new and exciting exhibition and community engagement initiative from the Smithsonian Institution’s ‘Museum on Main Street’ (MoMS) program in partnership with the Minnesota Humanities Center, will be on display in the Events Hall at Commonweal Theatre in Lanesboro Wednesdays through Sundays 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. during the six week run. Admission is free.

The exhibition and overall initiative is designed to reconnect Minnesotans to our water and the need to become more actively involved in its protection by using, in addition to science, the tools of story, history, faith, ethics, and the arts. Lanesboro is one of 6 small towns and Minnesota is one of the 5 initial states selected by the Smithsonian to participate in this new traveling exhibition.

Water/Ways reveals the central nature of water on our lives by exploring how Americans use water, how water unites communities, how water affects every element of life, and how Americans care for our water and protect this valuable resource for the future.

Water/Ways aligns perfectly with the Lanesboro community’s values for preservation and celebration of our natural landscape, and the collaborative nature of the project is a good fit for what diverse sectors of the community are already doing to provide unique cultural experiences in a small town. Lanesboro is also a destination for outdoor recreation and has one of the most unique historic dams in the nation.

Lanesboro Arts, Commonweal Theatre Company, Eagle Bluff Environmental Learning Center, Lanesboro Museum, and Friends of the Root River have partnered together to develop and present several dynamic local programs and engagement initiatives that will help bring together the storyline of the Root River Watershed.

Companion Exhibits

In addition to the Smithsonian MoMS exhibition Water/Ways, the companion exhibitions below will be on display in Lanesboro:

We Are Water MN is an interactive story collecting exhibit that focuses on individuals’ relationships with and responsibilities to water. The exhibit includes stories from people reflecting on the meaning and experience of water in Minnesota, stories from local people in the Root River Watershed, and space for exhibit visitors to add their own stories and images. We Are Water MN also raises awareness about the quantity and quality of Minnesota’s water, connecting exhibit-goers to active water solutions. The exhibit was developed by the Minnesota Humanities Center, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, the Minnesota Department of Health, and other statewide partners. The exhibit will be on display alongside Water/Ways in the Events Hall of Commonweal Theatre Wednesdays through Sundays 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. through February 19.

Currents of Change is a companion art exhibit at Lanesboro Arts Gallery that pairs historical water photos of Lanesboro with mixed media artworks interpreting those photos by 15 regional artists. The historical photos featured in Currents of Change were selected and provided by the staff and board of the Lanesboro Museum. The selected photos showcases Lanesboro’s deep relationship with water over time and includes winter scenes, floods, fishing, the river, dam, ponds, blizzards, and more. The exhibit will be on display in the gallery through March 5 and will open with an artist reception on January 7th from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. that will feature a Water Bar.

Additional programs and exhibits are scheduled throughout Lanesboro January 7 through February 19!

For questions on volunteering, being a docent, or bringing school groups contact Lissie Harter at Eagle Bluff: For information on attending the plays at Commonweal or questions related to viewing Water/Ways and We Are Water MN, contact their box office at 1-800-657-7025 or visit For all other questions, please contact Adam at Lanesboro Arts: or 507-467-2446.

Sponsored in Lanesboro by:
POET biorefining, Lanesboro American Legion, Bolton & Menk, and Davies Printing
High Court Pub, Stone Mill Suites, Lanesboro Chamber of Commerce



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