Florida Humanities is partnering with seven locations across Florida to bring the Smithsonian “Water/Ways” exhibit back to the state. “Water/Ways” is part of the Smithsonian’s Museum on Main Street (MoMS) program that brings nationally curated exhibits to small communities across America. Communities hosting the exhibition have an opportunity to dive into water — an essential component of life on our planet environmentally, culturally, and historically.

By Janet Scherberger

Featured image above: Sandspur Beach, Florida Keys

In celebration of “Water/Ways” making a return to Florida, a four-part virtual program series was held in late June. Florida Humanities, At Home! Let’s Talk About Water brought together five scholars to explore four aspects of Florida’s water story. Dr. Jack Davis, an environmental historian at the University of Florida, launched the series with a discussion on the Gulf of Mexico and Florida’s relationship to the bald eagle. Carol Mickett and Robert Stackhouse, a team of artists who have collaborated on a range of artworks for more than two decades, described the ways in which water influences their work.

Rick Kilby, the author of Florida’s Healing Waters, explained how the perceived benefits of Florida’s mineral springs spurred tourism throughout the Gilded Age — and persist to this day. Many of the conversations centered on Florida’s past relationship with water as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Clean Water Act.

Cynthia Barnett, author of the recently published The Sound of the Sea, Seashells and the Fate of the Oceans, concluded the series with a discussion of our future with water. Participants were asked at the outset of the program about their level of optimism on the state of water 100 years into the future. The expressed concern and pessimism served as a launching point to consider the broader relationship between humanity and water, as Barnett ultimately made a case for optimism.

Recordings of all programs are available on our website, FloridaHumanities.org

Janet Scherberger

Janet Scherberger, Communications Consultant

Fall 2021 FORUM Magazine Chronicling Florida

This article originally appeared in the Fall 2021 Issue of FORUM Magazine. Visit our collection at the USFSP Digital Archive by clicking here.