Water/Ways, a Smithsonian Institution Exhibit

In partnership with the Museum Association of New York (MANY), the Erie Canal Museum is hosting Water/Ways, a traveling exhibition from the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum on Main Street (MoMS) program. Water/Ways explores water’s effects on migration and settlement, and the relationship between water and politics, economics, and culture. Water/Ways is on display in the second-floor Weighlock Gallery from June 29 through August 11, 2019. We are honored to be selected as one of only six institutions statewide to host this outstanding exhibition.

We are presenting the following free public programs in association with the Smthsonian Water/Ways exhibit. Unless otherwise specified, all programs will take place at the Museum, located at 318 Erie Boulevard East, Syracuse. We hope you’ll join us for one or all of them!


Water/Ways, a Smithsonian Institution Exhibit

Historic Photos of Syracuse and the Enlarged Erie Canal

Baldwinsville Public Library, June 29-July 31, 2019

During July, the Baldwinsville Public Library is partnering with the Erie Canal Museum and Water/Ways institutions to host an exhibit of historic photographs of Syracuse and surrounding areas on the Enlarged Erie Canal, which existed in the mid-1800s. The images are all from the Museum’s collection, and will be on display at the library from June 29-July 31. The Baldwinsville Public Library is located at 33 East Genesee Street, Baldwinsville, New York. It is open from 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday, and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday. The library is closed on Sundays during July and August. Free and open to the public.


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Exhibit Reception

Wednesday, July 10, 5 p.m.-8 p.m.

The Erie Canal Museum is open until 8 p.m. for a special Water/Ways reception, with refreshments, remarks, and the opportunity to view and learn more about this amazing exhibit from the Smithsonian Institution. The Sassy Taco Food Truck will be parked outside, offering a variety of scrumptious dinner fare. Free and open to the public.


Interpreted Bicycle RideInterpreted Bicycle Ride

Tuesday, July 16, 6 p.m.-8 p.m.

Join staff of the Erie Canal Museum on this recreational bike ride along the route of the Erie Canal in Syracuse, New York. Learn about the 19th century Canal in downtown Syracuse, and explore some of the city’s historic and contemporary Canal systems, including the Onondaga Creekwalk, the Inner Harbor, and Onondaga Lake. Meet at the Erie Canal Museum, 318 Erie Boulevard East, Syracuse. Helmets are required. Free and open to the public.


Water/Ways, a Smithsonian Institution Exhibit

Escape on the Erie: A program for children and families

Saturday, July 20, 11 a.m.

Join the crew of the Nathan Roberts as they work together to solve the clues that will help their mule escape from mule rustlers on the Erie Canal. The Nathan Roberts canal boat has been tied up in Syracuse waiting its turn at the weigh lock. During the night, the mule towing the boat was unhitched and led away. Families and other small groups can learn about the Erie Canal and other local waterways as they solve the puzzles, unlock the BreakOut Box and free the mule. Limited to 25 participants. Free and open to the public.


New York's Queen City: A History of Buffalo

New York’s Queen City: A History of Buffalo

Thursday, August 1, 12 p.m.-1 p.m.

How did Buffalo earn its spot as the western terminus of the Erie Canal? And how did it grow into the Empire State’s second largest city? Learn the answers to these and other questions about this major New York city during our third curator talk of 2019. Ashley Maready will unpack the history of Buffalo, sharing research findings as well as images and archival documents from our collection. Free and open to the public.


Water/Ways, a Smithsonian Institution Exhibit

The Water Drum: Haudenosaunee Craft, Music, and Dance

Saturday, August 3, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

These Water/Ways programs are presented by members of Haudenosaunee tribes and coordinated by our friends at New York Folklore. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Adrian John of the Seneca Nation Hawk Clan will demonstrate making a traditional Haudenosaunee water drum, going through the step-by-step process of creation. John is a resident of the Allegheny Indian Territory, and an educator and artist who works particularly as a traditional stone and wood carver.

From 2 p.m.-3 p.m., we will host Haudenosaunee Song and Social Dance by Chris Thomas and his Smoke Dancers. Thomas is a member of the Onondaga Nation Beaver Clan, and learned social dances at the Longhouse of the Onondaga Nation. An expert dancer who has won several Smoke Dance competitions, Thomas is also an educator who encourages participation in Haudenosaunee social dances. Free and open to the public.

Middle Eastern Waters

Monday, August 5, 5:30 p.m.-6:30 p.m.

This program by folklorist Nada Odeh features performance, food, and cultural presentations about the importance of water in the Middle East. The evening will start with a presentation by Odeh about Middle Eastern arts, and will be followed by a musical performance on the Oud (Middle Eastern instrument) by Ahmad Khalaf, who came to Syracuse three years ago. Ahmad resettled in Syracuse after a long journey from his home in Homs, Syria to Jordan. Samples of Middle Eastern food made by Nihad will be served. Nihad arrived in Syracuse from Syria three years ago, and Syracuse became home to her and her family. Attendees will learn about travel, homesickness, and what it means to resettle and find a new home. Free and open to the public.


Water/Ways Wednesday at the Weighlock

Water/Ways Wednesday at the Weighlock with Donald Meixner

Wednesday, August 7, 6:30 p.m.-8 p.m.

During this special program, Donald Meixner performs songs that traveled the Erie Canal and points west with the diggers and other workers who immigrated from many different countries. He’ll talk about the origins of some of these songs, and discuss how they were transformed through time. Our presenter is well-known throughout Central New York as the guitarist and five-string banjo player for The Flyin’ Column. For more than 45 years The Flyin’ Column has performed the folk music of Ireland, Scotland, and North America at festivals, weddings, and in some of the finest saloons in New York ​State, Pennsylvania, and Canada.  Bring your singing voice to this Water/Ways program, which is free and open to the public.



Download the free Water/Ways app available from Google Play or iTunes!




Water/Ways is part of Museum on Main Street, a collaboration between the Smithsonian Institution and the Museum Association of New York, and was adapted from an exhibition organized by the American Museum of Natural History, New York.
The Folk Art programming for Water/Ways in NY is sponsored by New York Folklore, and supported by grants from the New York State Regional Economic Development Initiative, a program of Governor Andrew M Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, and the National Endowment for the Arts.


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The Erie Canal Museum’s Water/Ways programs are supported by a generous grant from the M&T Charitable Foundation.


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