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Smithsonian exhibit on display at Prairie Woods

Robbie Davis, project director with the Smithsonian Institution's Museum on Main Street, speaks June 21 at the installation of the Water/Ways exhibit at Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center. Water/Ways is a traveling exhibition and community engagement initiative of the Museum on Main Street program. (Courtesy photo) 1 / 4
Different plaques within the Water/Ways exhibit give facts about water and our relationship with it. (Brian Edwards / Tribune) 2 / 4
The boards within the Smithsonian Institution portion of the Water/Ways exhibit are wave-like, alluding to the exhibits overall water theme. (Brian Edwards / Tribune) 3 / 4
A more localized part of the water-themed exhibit at Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center in Spicer shows the effect that each person has on keeping water clean. (Brian Edwards / Tribune) 4 / 4

SPICER -- A little piece of the Smithsonian has made its way to Spicer’s Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center.

When first walking into the Education Center, visitors will see several walls that flow like waves through the main entrance.

These boards, among other installations, welcome observers to “Water/Ways,” a part of the Smithsonian’s Museum on Main Street program. The exhibit presents different information on the importance of water, conservation efforts and some of the effects that humans have on the natural resource.

Prairie Woods will be home to the traveling exhibit through Aug. 7.

The Smithsonian aspect of the exhibit features information about keeping water clean, climate change, the cycle of water and water scarcity. Through informational text and videos, readers can see how both large-scale and small-scale interactions with the environment affect water in different ways.

Moving through the building, the scale of water interactions becomes localized, with both state and county information showing the importance of water in the region.

Photographs by John G. White, a Minnesotan artist, are part of a series called the “Art of Erosion.” The photos look like abstract paintings and reveal how erosion changes and shifts the look of the local landscape. The pictures highlight a lack of color, often appearing to be black and white, even though White didn’t alter the photographs at all for the series.

Near the back part of the building, many of the exhibits shift from informational pieces to collaborative pieces. Visitors can mark a place on a map of the area where a body of water holds a significant memory for them. And people are encouraged to volunteer their time to help with studies that aid in improving water quality as a part of “citizen science.”

In the end, the exhibit highlights getting everybody involved in keeping the environment, and water especially, healthy, reiterating what Dave Pederson, executive director of Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center, said in a past article about the exhibit. “Everybody’s got a stake in it.”

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