Traveling Smithsonian exhibit discusses value of, relationships with water.
Water/Ways exhibit to be shown through Aug. 28
Posted on Jul 27, 2016
Famed environmental scientist and conservationist Jacques Yves Cousteau was once quoted as saying, “We forget that the water cycle and the life cycle are one.”
In the American West, water and sometimes its scarcity are a vital part of daily life. People’s relationship with water is well-documented in the Smithsonian Museum on Main Street program’s traveling exhibit “Water/Ways,” shown at the Sun Valley Museum of History in Ketchum until Aug. 28.
The interactive exhibit explores water as a critical scientific and cultural resource. The exhibit examines the impact of water from a national and global perspective, exploring water’s impact on humans in biological, environmental and cultural ways.
“We cherish our connections to nature, particularly the sights, the sounds and the sense of place we feel at the water’s edge,” according to a release from the Smithsonian Institution. “And artists are inspired by the duality of water—a substance that is seemingly soft and graceful that is yet a powerful and nearly unstoppable force.”
The exhibit also explores water’s practical role in society, discussing how the availability of water affected settlement and migration patterns.
“Access to water and control of water resources have long been a central part of political and economic planning,” the release states. “Human creativity and resourcefulness provide new ways of protecting water resources and renewing respect for the natural environment.”
In addition to the multimedia exhibit designed by the Smithsonian, the Community Library has created complementary aspects to the exhibit that focus on water-related issues specific to the Wood River Valley.
The local exhibits include a largescale map of the local watersheds, a video oral history project, a display of fine art by local artist Deborra Marshall Bohrer and locally created sets of word puzzles pertaining to water that people can turn in—after solving them—for a chance at a raffle drawing.
“Water is a defining feature in the arid American West, and here in central Idaho, our local waterways include the wild Salmon River, the renowned spring-fed Silver Creek and the freestone Big Wood River, as well as irrigation ditches and the massive Magic Reservoir,” said Jenny Emery Davidson, the library’s executive director. “This excellent exhibit prompts us to pay attention to these waterways in new and deliberate ways. It’s perfect for here and perfect for this summer.”
The video oral history project was created specially for this exhibit and includes 25 short video interviews with various locals who have different kinds of relationships with water, such as Kevin Lakey, District 37 watermaster, and Nick Purdy, Double R rancher. There also is a wall-sized satellite image of the Malad river system, which includes the Big and Little Wood rivers.
The museum at 180 First St. E. in Ketchum, formerly the Ketchum Sun Valley Historical SocietyHeritage and SkiMuseum, is the exhibit’s second stop in Idaho during its yearlong national tour. Regional History Librarian Mary Tyson said the library applied in summer 2015 for Ketchum to be one of the stops, and one of the Smithsonian’s requirements was that local exhibits and information be created to tie the exhibit to local issues.
“The exhibit shows you ways you might not have thought about how water affects our daily lives,” she said.
The museum is open from 1-5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and admission is free.