Thanks to a combined partnership between the Smithsonian Institute and the Alabama Humanities Foundation, MainStreet Alexander City will bring a traveling exhibit from the Smithsonian to town. Between Oct. 5 and Nov. 7, the exhibit, “Water/Ways,” will be set up for the public to view inside city hall.“It’s going to be inside on the main floor of city hall,” said MainStreet Executive Director Bre Smith. “It’ll be right up front.”

The partnership to bring this exhibition to Alexander City began around a year ago, with the banners announcing this event going up within the last few days before the exhibit pieces arrive and begin to be assembled at the end of September, she said.The exhibit is interactive, allowing visitors the chance to get up close and personal on how water impacts the rest of the environment, historical aspects of water subjects and the importance of not polluting waterways among other things, according to Smith.

Other interactive aspects of the exhibit include having an iPad and a television sharing additional information with guests.Alexander City is the third of six Alabama cities the exhibit will visit, Grants Director of the Alabama Humanities Foundation Thomas Bryant said.“It began in Eufaula, and is currently in Decatur,” he said. “After Alexander City, it will go down to Spanish Fort on Mobile Bay, then up to Jasper before concluding in Selma.”As a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Alabama Humanities Foundation, just like other state humanities foundations, works with the Smithsonian to take high-quality exhibits on tour, most of which are scaled-down versions of the exhibits on display at the institute in Washington, D.C.Since this exhibit revolves around the importance of water, Bryant added the planners at the Alabama Humanities Foundation wanted to be sure they chose cities with close ties to bodies of water.

For Alexander City, having both the Tallapoosa River and Lake Martin nearby made bringing the exhibit to town a natural fit.In addition to the exhibit set up inside city hall during the month of October, Smith said historian John Kvoch would be speaking about this subject at the Adelia Russell Library at 5 p.m. on Oct. 16.While “Water/Ways” is geared more towards students at the middle school and high school levels, Smith said it would be beneficial to everyone interested in learning more about the important role water plays in the world.“We usually think of water studies being one of the sciences, but this one has a nice amount of history thrown in,” Bryant said. “I feel it’s a nice bridging of the humanities and the sciences.”In order to add more local emphasis on the exhibits being shown, the foundation has partnered with the University of Alabama Center for Public Television, which goes around and collects stories from local citizens. The information gathered by the center is then provided to the city for posterity, according to Bryant.“The story collecting and oral history component is very important,” he said.Though Bryant said he would like to be able to have exhibits like this make repeat tours throughout the state, the Alabama Humanities Foundation’s main focus is on being able to get the newest Smithsonian traveling exhibit in Alabama.“As soon as one is available, we apply to have it come,” he said.Following the conclusion of the “Water/Ways” tour, Bryant said the foundation would be taking a bit of a break from the Smithsonian tours, instead focusing on traveling exhibits criss-crossing the state over the next couple of years celebrating Alabama’s bicentennial.Bryant wanted to take a moment and thank AAA Cooper Transportation of Dothan for volunteering to transport the exhibit across the state, making sure that such a valuable educational tool gets to its next destination safely and promptly.The month-long exhibit is free to visit and will provide every guest the chance to see the impact water can have on the environment, not only on a wide scale, but also on a focused, narrow level.We’re very excited,” Smith said. “We’re happy to be partnering with them again.”


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