New York’s Life Aquatic

East Hampton Historical Society
Indian Wells.

Clinton Academy Museum in East Hampton will host “Water/Ways,” the Smithsonian’s traveling exhibition. There will be an opening reception on Saturday, February 29, from 4 to 6 PM.

This free event, though donations are encouraged, is presented by the East Hampton Historical Society in cooperation with the Museum Association of New York. From the light shining through the salty air to the waves that crash upon the shoreline, water has influenced and impacted the East Ends climate, trade, transportation, arts, and so much more.

“Everyone connects to water, as consumers, as advocates, in ritual connections, in historical context, and other personal ways,” said Maria Vann, executive director of the East Hampton Historical Society. “Our water story is the world’s water story.”

With over 7600 bodies of fresh water, bordering two Great Lakes, the Long Island Sound, and the Atlantic Ocean, New York state has been greatly impacted by the surrounding waters.

“Hosting this exhibition allows us to offer an important and engaging opportunity, not only to the East Hampton community, but to those across Long Island,” Vann said.

The Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service’s Museum on Main Street program is designed to partner with small towns, and East Hampton is the only location on Long Island to have been selected to exhibit “Water/Ways.” Richard Barons, chief curator of the East Hampton Historical Society, said his organization’s contribution will focus on water and its roles in the early to mid-20th century.

“Three areas for which we have excellent documentation are our famous beaches, ice making, and ice fishing, as well as a section on duck hunting,” he said. Imagine mural-sized collages repurposed from antique photographs to display a kaleidoscopic picture of the area’s aquatic activities.

The community programs spanning the six-week exhibit include watercolor workshops for both kids and adults, a lecture series including the “History of Montaukett/Shinnecock Fishing,” staged readings, and more.

“There’s a lot of opportunity for our community who are here year-round to get involved with the historical society, if they haven’t already done so. And most of our programming is free,” said Marianne Howard, East Hampton Historical Society’s director of visitor experience.

She said the society is partnering with the East Hampton Library, the Shinnecock Nation, the American Lore Theatre, the First Presbyterian Church in Southampton, the Amagansett Fire Department, and various watercolor artists.

“One of the interesting things that we’ve been able to do with this exhibit is to partner with different organizations that we don’t always have the opportunity to partner with,” Howard said. “It just provides us with an opportunity to not only present our programs, but do them with others.”

The show will run through April 11. Clinton Academy is located at 151 Main Street in East Hampton. Learn more and see a full list of programming at

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