Rural Communities Invited to Host Smithsonian Traveling Exhibit – Application Deadline Extended to May 18

Rural Communities Invited to Host Smithsonian Traveling Exhibit
Application Deadline Extended to May 18

Oklahoma Humanities (OH), in partnership with the Smithsonian Institution (SI), will select five Oklahoma communities to host the traveling exhibit, Water/Ways, part of the Smithsonian’s “Museum on Main Street” program.  Museums, libraries, historical societies, and other nonprofit organizations are invited to apply for this exhibit that explores the many ways in which people use water.  The tour will take place from June 2019 to April 2020.

“Museum on Main Street” is expressly designed to reach rural cultural organizations and is offered free of charge.  While applications are sought from communities with populations of up to 20,000, towns with populations as few as 4,000 have been successful in achieving the program’s goals.  Hosting a “Museum on Main Street” exhibition offers communities a rare opportunity to increase visitation, visibility, and civic pride. 

“Water/Ways is our sixth Smithsonian tour,” said Ann Thompson, OH Executive Director.  “Over the years, we’ve seen how these exhibits act as a catalyst for projects in communities that normally wouldn’t have the resources to bring in exhibits of this caliber.”

Host sites will receive capacity building training, funding for supplemental programs, and the expertise of a state scholar to help each site connect the exhibit to their local narrative.  OH will work closely with each community to ensure a successful tour.

Applicants are encouraged to consider the many ways in which Oklahomans interact with water.  Water is a vital element in our culture.  We rely on it for our daily needs: health, food, power, and industry.  Water represents purity and has spiritual implications.  We feel personal connections with it through nature and recreation.  What responsibilities do we have to ensure the quality and reliability of our current water sources?  How can flood, drought, and other water-related disasters impact a community?

Host sites for each six-week exhibition will be selected based on geographic location, evidence of strong community support, strength of ideas for supplemental programming, and physical event space.  Water/Ways requires an area of 650 square feet with an 8’6” minimum.  OH staff may conduct site visits to collect additional information prior to the final host site selections. 

Additional information about Water/Ways can be found at  A link to OH’s online application can be found at:  The deadline for application submissions has been extended to May 18, 2018.  For questions, contact Kelly Burns, OH Program Officer, at (405) 235-0280 or