Smithsonian Traveling Exhibition is coming to Clinton Academy

Explore Water’s Environmental and Cultural Impact


Exhibition Dates: February 29 – April 11, 2020

Opening Reception: February 29 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Clinton Academy Museum

151 Main Street, East Hampton

Tuesdays through Saturdays 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

No Admission Charge; Donations Welcome


The East Hampton Historical Society invites you to discover how humanity has used water and how water has shaped our civilization when the Smithsonian’s traveling exhibition, Water/Ways, arrives at Clinton Academy Museum for a six-week stay.

Water impacts climate, agriculture, transportation, industry and more. It inspires art and music. The East Hampton Historical Society, in cooperation with the Museum Association of New York (MANY), will examine water as an environmental necessity and an important cultural element as it hosts Water/Ways, a traveling exhibition from the Smithsonian’s Museum on Main Street (MoMS) program.

The exhibit opens Saturday, February 29, with a celebratory opening reception from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. The exhibit will be on view Tuesdays through Saturdays, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. through April 11, 2020.

Water/Ways Exhibition – Courtesy of Museum Association of New York (MANY)

The Smithsonian’s touring exhibition explores water’s great role in New York


New York is home to more than 7,600 bodies of fresh water. It also borders two of the Great Lakes, the Long Island Sound and the Atlantic Ocean. The Smithsonian’s Water/Ways exhibition explores water’s great role in New York and water’s effect on migration and settlement, and the relationship between water and politics, economics and culture.

Museum on Main Street is designed to share the resources of the Smithsonian with small towns through partnerships with state humanities councils and museum associations. “The East Hampton Historical Society is honored to be the only location on Long Island and one of only six in New York State to be selected to host Water/Ways. Hosting this exhibition allows us to offer an important and engaging opportunity, not only to the East Hampton community, but to those across Long Island,” said Maria Vann, Executive Director of the East Hampton Historical Society.

Image Courtesy of MANY

The East End’s Water Story included in Water/Ways

“Water has always dictated the life of the East End,” said Richard Barons, Chief Curator of the East Hampton Historical Society.As a Historical Society, our contribution to the Smithsonian’s traveling exhibition will focus on water and its roles in the early to mid-20th century. Three areas for which we have excellent documentation are our famous beaches, ice making and ice fishing as well as a section on duck hunting,” said Mr. Barons. Mural-sized collages, created from antique photographs, will immerse the visitor in a kaleidoscopic picture of East Hampton’s old-time water inspired activities.

Montauk Lighthouse, Courtesy of the EHHS

Related Programming Tells the Local Water Story of East Hampton Town

The East Hampton Historical Society will hold an array of community-based programs over the course of the six-week exhibit, all of which support, illuminate, and foster curiosity about water and its role in our lives.   

“The programs that we have planned provide the East Hampton community with opportunities to engage with the various themes from the exhibition in unique ways.  Not only are we providing hands-on learning opportunities for children, but we are also arranging a wide breadth of lectures for our adult population,” said Marianne Howard, the East Hampton Historical Society’s Director of Visitor Experience.

Programs include Watercolor Workshops for Kids & Adults, a series of lectures, including “What is a Waterway Anyway” by Daniel Rinn on March 12 and “History of Montaukett/Shinnecock Fishing” on March 20, and a staged reading of “Salt Water People” on March 29. (Note: Details for all programs provided in a separate document)

Through creative partnerships, the East Hampton Historical Society has had the opportunity to collaborate with many community organizations, including the Amagansett Fire Department, the East Hampton Library, the First Presbyterian Church of East Hampton, the Shinnecock Nation, The American Lore Theater, and local artists.  

“Kids at Beach”, Courtesy of the EHHS

“The Smithsonian’s touring exhibition of Water/Ways is for everyone, as water is rudimentary to life as we know it.  Everyone connects to water, as consumers, as advocates, in ritual connections, in historical context, and other personal ways.  Our water story, is the world’s water story…one that binds us, sustains us, and inspires us,” said Executive Director Maria Vann.

Indian Wells Beach, Courtesy of the EHHS




Clinton Academy, 1784, East Hampton



AAQ / Resource: Sotheby’s International Realty


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 inspired by 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.