HESSTON — Plan a little extra time on your next visit to the Hesston Public Library. You can look through the shelves for books, movies and music, but the library is also hosting the Smithsonian Institution traveling exhibition “Water/Ways."
“'Water/Ways” is a one-of-a-kind opportunity to experience a Smithsonian exhibition in your own hometown," said Kansas Humanities Council Associate Director Tracy Quillin. "The Hesston Public Library is one of only seven venues in the state to host ‘Water/Ways.’"
“Water/Ways," which focuses on the numerous ways water affects our lives, is on display until Dec. 31. The library is partnering with the Dyck Arboretum of the Plains to present the exhibition. Hesston is the fourth of seven Kansas communities to host the national exhibition that is touring the state through June 2018.
"We put it up last week and it'll be up for six weeks," said librarian Hanneke van Bergeijk.
The exhibit takes up a large portion of the library's center aisle, and has interactive displays and screens for visitors to try.
"It's for all ages, that's what I like. There's stuff for kids and there's stuff for grownups," van Bergeijk said.
“Water/Ways” tells stories of how water impacts our lives today in our work, play, celebrations and homes. The Smithsonian exhibition explores the important role water plays around the world, including understanding where a community’s water comes from and what water's future is like.
In "Water/Ways," Kansas' water sources can be found on a giant floor map, while wall spinners reveal events in history in which water played a major role and digital touchscreens play videos about working on the water. In another hands-on display, visitors can also learn how much water is needed to produce everyday items like a pair of blue jeans or a gallon of milk.
A free magazine, "Ebb and Flow: Water/Ways Stories from Kansas," can be picked up while visiting the "Water/Ways" exhibit.
The entrance area of the library also holds “One Cup, Many Straws: Quenching the Thirst for the Equus Beds Aquifer,” a local exhibition about aquifer preservation and stewardship.
Hesston draws almost all of its water from the Equus Beds, which begins just north of Wichita and stretches north and west to include Hutchinson and McPherson and serves the most residential customers of Kansas’s aquifers.
The “Water/Ways” initiative is sponsored by the Kansas Humanities Council with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Kansas Humanities Council’s Friends of the Humanities. “Water/Ways” statewide partners are the Kansas Department of Agriculture and the Kansas Water Office.
The “Water/Ways” Smithsonian exhibition is part of "Museum on Main Street," a collaboration between the Smithsonian Institution and the Kansas Humanities Council. “Water/Ways” was adapted from an exhibition organized by the American Museum of Natural History in New York.
The Kansas Humanities Council is a nonprofit organization that supports community-based cultural programs, serves as a financial resource through an active grant-making program and encourages Kansans to engage in the civic and cultural life of their communities.
The exhibit has drawn people into the Hesston Public Library that are not regular patrons.
"Some people are surprised," van Bergeijk said. "Some people have come in just to see it."
Hesston Public Library, located at 300 N. Main St., is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays, from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursdays and from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays.
For more information about “Water/Ways” call 620-327-4666 or visit http://hesston.scklf.info. For more information about the statewide “Water/Ways” initiative, visit the Kansas Humanities Council at http://www.kansashumanities.org or call 785-357-0359.
Contact Patricia Middleton by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her stories on Twitter at @MacSentinel.