University of Southern Indiana

USI and Historic New Harmony host traveling Smithsonian exhibit and programming highlighting Water/Ways

USI and Historic New Harmony host traveling Smithsonian exhibit and programming highlighting Water/Ways

9/16/2021 | University Communications
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USI’s Historic New Harmony will host the Smithsonian-curated traveling exhibit called Water/Ways at the Atheneum Saturday, October 2 through Sunday, November 14. The exhibit will be open Tuesday through Sundays from 9:30 a.m. - 5 p.m.

In societies across the globe, water serves as a source of peace and contemplation. Many faiths revere water as a sacred symbol. Authors and artists are inspired by the complex character of water – a substance that is seemingly soft and graceful that is yet a powerful and nearly unstoppable force. Water also plays a practical role in American society. 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. Human creativity and resourcefulness provided new ways of protecting water resources and renewing respect for the natural environment.

"Known first as Harmonie on the Wabash, the town began as a spiritual sanctuary and later became a haven for international scientists, scholars, and educators who sought equality in communal living,” said Claire Eagle, Interim Assistant Director of Historic New Harmony. “This exhibit, programming and the partnerships that it led to are the perfect combination of science and history, continuing an important legacy in New Harmony."

In addition to the exhibit, several programs are planned for the public:

In partnership with The Nature Conservancy and the USGS Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana (OKI) Water Science Center, Historic New Harmony also developed two permanent waysides to be installed on the Atheneum grounds, detailing both the history of the Wabash and the importance of conservation of the river for both people and wildlife. These waysides will be available to view starting Saturday, October 2.

“Our state’s freshwater resources are a top priority for The Nature Conservancy, so we are excited to partner with Historic New Harmony on the Smithsonian’s traveling Water/Ways exhibit to showcase the importance of Indiana’s Wabash River,” said Mike Dunn, Director of Indiana Freshwater Conservation Programs with The Nature Conservancy. “New Harmony’s unique history and location along our state’s official river make it a perfect place for Hoosiers to learn more about the precious resource of water and the daily actions we can each take to improve the Wabash for both people and nature.”

  • A ribbon cutting ceremony will occur at 10 a.m. on Saturday, October 2 with a reception and light refreshments to follow.
  • At 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, October 20, the Atheneum will host a presentation Mussels: A Shell of Indiana’s Rivers by Cassie Hauswald with The Nature Conservancy  as she explores the past, present and future of Indiana’s water can be told through our 75-plus species of freshwater mussels, which places Indiana in the top ten of U.S. states for mussel diversity. 
  • At 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, October 23, the 7th annual Wonderful Wabash Canoe Event, will take a new route, which will start at the boat launch under the I-64 Bridge on the Illinois side, stop at a sand bar partway for a break and educational presentations and end at the Atheneum in New Harmony where participants can explore the Water/Ways
  • Finally, at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, November 9, the Atheneum will host a screening of the documentary Along the Wabash. Immediately following the showing there will be short presentation and question and answer session by the documentary's producer, writer and director, Susanne Schwibs.  


About Indiana Humanities 
Indiana Humanities connects people, opens minds and enriches lives by creating and facilitating programs that encourage Hoosiers to think, read and talk. Learn more at

About Water/Ways
Water/Ways has been made possible in Indiana by Indiana Humanities. Water/Ways is part of Museum on Main Street, a collaboration between the Smithsonian Institution and State Humanities Councils nationwide. Support for Museum on Main Street has been provided by the United States Congress. Water/Ways was adapted from an exhibition organized by the American Museum of Natural History, New York (, and the Science Museum of Minnesota, St. Paul (, in collaboration with Great Lakes Science Center, Cleveland; The Field Museum, Chicago; Instituto Sangari, Sao Paulo, Brazil; National Museum of Australia, Canberra; Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, Canada; San Diego Natural History Museum; and Science Centre Singapore with PUB Singapore. 

About Museum on Main Street 
Museum on Main Street is a unique collaboration between the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES), state humanities councils across the nation and local host institutions. To learn more about Water/Ways and other Museum on Main Street exhibitions, visit 

SITES has been sharing the wealth of Smithsonian collections and research programs with millions of people outside Washington, D.C. for more than 65 years. SITES connects Americans to their shared cultural heritage through a wide range of exhibitions about art, science and history, which are shown wherever people live, work and play. For exhibition description and tour schedules, visit

For more information about Historic New Harmony, contact Erin McCracken Merris, Marketing Specialist for USI Outreach and Engagement, at

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