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wellsAurora, NY - From above, Earth appears as a water planet with more than 71 percent of its surface covered with this vital resource for life; water impacts climate, agriculture, transportation, industry and permeates art and music in cultures the world over. Wells College, in cooperation with the Museum Association of New York, 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.  "Water/Ways" will be on view Friday, Aug. 16 through Sunday, Sept. 29 at Louis Jefferson Long Library on the Wells College campus in Aurora.

"Water/Ways" explores the endless motion of the water cycle—water's effect on landscape, settlement and migration, and its impact on culture and spirituality—while also looking at how political and economic planning have long been affected by access to and control of water resources. The exhibit also examines the ways human creativity and resourcefulness continue to provide new avenues for protecting precious water resources and renewing respect for the natural environment.

Bringing the "Water/Ways" exhibit to Aurora was a collaborative effort among numerous individuals, including Steve Zabriskie, vice president of the Aurora Masonic Center and also a Wells College trustee; Linda Schwab '73, the Village of Aurora's historian; and Carol Henderson, library director, and Tiffany Raymond '10, reference and instruction librarian, at Wells College's Long Library.

"Steve felt strongly that Aurora should apply for this significant exhibit. He got me involved, but neither the Masonic Center nor the Aurora Historical Society could offer a large enough display space," said Linda Schwab, who is also a professor emerita of chemistry at Wells College. "Long Library at Wells could, however, and came with the valuable experience of Carol and Tiffany. The application stressed connecting with the community, so applying as a team put us ahead from the start," Schwab added.

The three institutions in Aurora were expressly chosen by the Museum Association of New York (MANY) to host "Water/Ways" as part of the Museum on Main Street program—a national, state, and local partnership to bring exhibitions and programs to rural cultural organizations. The exhibition will tour a half-dozen communities in New York state from late June 2019 through April 2020.

Designed for small-town museums, libraries and cultural organizations, "Water/Ways" will serve as a community meeting place to convene conversations about water's impact on American culture. Throughout the duration of the exhibit, the three presenting institutions—the Aurora Historical Society, Aurora Masonic Center and Wells College—will be presenting a variety of talks, public programs and other educational initiatives to raise people's understanding about what water means culturally, socially and spiritually in their own community.

In addition, the Aurora Historical Society is presenting a complementary display, "How Cayuga Lake Shaped Aurora: Legends and Lore," which explores stories from Aurora's past—some of which have been long forgotten, and most of which have at least an element of mystery.

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