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Smithsonian's 'Water/Ways' on view at Hickory Knob State Park and Resort

South Carolina Humanities, in cooperation with the Smithsonian Institute’s Museum on Main Street program, presents the traveling “Water/Ways” exhibit at Hickory Knob State Park in McCormick County. It looks at this essential component of life on Earth.

In conjunction, McCormick County is also presenting a local interactive exhibit on how topography and landforms impact the watershed, partnering with the Clemson Cooperative Extension Service. This exhibit has an “augmented reality sandbox” that allows you to create topographic models, by shaping sand. Various images projected on the sand show you how the landscape changes and how water travels.

Exhibits are on view through Aug. 8 in the Great Lodge Room at Hickory Knob — 1591 Resort Drive. Entrance to the park and exhibit is free. Public health guidelines are in place to limit the spread of COVID-19.

More than 70 volunteers have committed to be guides to lead visitors through Water/Ways.

“They have the cutest little green aprons with the Water/Ways logo on them,” said T.J. Wallace, South Carolina Humanities assistant director. “The Smithsonian actually provides docent guides for these traveling exhibits, so volunteers can walk people through some of the talking points.”

A ribbon cutting for the exhibits was Thursday — right on schedule, even amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

“McCormick County, the McCormick Chamber of Commerce, in concert with Hickory Knob, have worked really hard to see this through and to meet concerns about safety and sanitizing the exhibit,” Wallace said. “The way this program works, this partnership that South Carolina Humanities has, with the Smithsonian, is that there are four other states in the country that are supposed to be doing the Water/Ways exhibit this year, too, but I have been told South Carolina is the only one opening on schedule.”

Toni Moore, McCormick County Historical Commission chairwoman said the commission worked with the McCormick Chamber of Commerce and Hickory Knob State Park.

“The beauty of these exhibits is they are a way for the Smithsonian to bring a little bit of what it has to everybody,” Moore said. “We weren’t sure it was even going to come because of the pandemic and then, it arrived on time, to open on time. It’s phenomenal.”

Moore said there’s plenty to see and do to make a day trip to McCormick. In addition to the exhibits, there is a scavenger hunt through parts of the county, the visitors’ center at Lake Thurmond Dam, tours of the cotton gin and grist mill and water-related history at nearby Willington on the Way.

“A lot of people forget that Lake Thurmond changed the landscape of McCormick forever,” Moore said. “That was not that long ago, in 1954.”

Museum on Main Street, T.J. Wallace explained, brings high-quality, Smithsonian exhibits to rural communities. This effort is a collaboration between the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service, state humanities councils and local host institutions.

“Water/Ways is actually the seventh traveling exhibit from the Museum on Main Street program that South Carolina Humanities has brought to the state,” Wallace said. “It looks at the history of water, how water is a sacred thing for many people and cultures and how water has impacted settlement and migration. It even gets into more current things like access to water.”

Previous Museum on Main Street Smithsonian exhibits in South Carolina have examined America by food, roots music, barns, sports, work and changes to rural America.

Contact St. Claire Donaghy at 864-943-2518.

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