Connected through water: Acclaimed traveling exhibit opens Saturday in Lanesboro
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Connected through water: Acclaimed traveling exhibit opens Saturday in Lanesboro

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Currents of Change

Lanesboro Arts will open Currents of Change on Saturday, part of the traveling Water/Ways exhibit that will bring together a number of organizations and businesses to create water-themed events and exhibits in the city through mid-February.

Lanesboro, an artistic community set on the banks of the Root River, will have a new exhibit and series of events flowing through it beginning Saturday.

The Commonweal Theatre will debut an acclaimed traveling exhibit by the Smithsonian Museum called Water/Ways, which focuses on the ways people use water in communities across Minnesota by using storytelling, public art, film, and other exhibits.

Much of the work is created by each community chosen to be part of the traveling exhibit, a series the Smithsonian has launched in several states. In Minnesota, the exhibit has been featured in Red Wing, St. Peter and other cities, and will travel in February to Detroit Lakes in northern Minnesota.

Lanesboro’s work for Water/Ways features two large public exhibits that focus on water use, interaction with the earth, impact on culture and the need for protection. Lanesboro Arts, the Commonweal Theatre, and other partners have teamed up with a number of businesses and organizations in the small community to create dozens of water-related events and exhibits through Feb. 19.

“The whole focus is to get people thinking about water and their relationship to water and its relationship to us, and strike a meaningful chord,” said Commonweal director Hal Cropp.

Events this opening weekend include everything from a spiritual blessing of Lanesboro dam by faith leaders to an exhibit by state departments and the Minnesota Humanities Center that lets participants add their story of connection to water to a map that’s published online. An opening reception will feature a water bar that lets, as advertised, visitors taste different samples of water. There will be a water-related play at the Commonweal and activities at the Eagle Bluff Environmental Learning Center, and other events.

“We’re engaging the whole town,” said Lanesboro Arts program director Adam Wiltgen.

Lanesboro was one of six town across Minnesota picked for the Smithsonian exhibit.

“We’re the smallest town by far,” Wiltgen said. “We don’t have the space to do everything in one location, so we’ve taken a more campus approach.”

Sunday, the nonprofit Friends of the Root River will host Science Sunday at the St. Mane Theatre, featuring the film “River Sojourn,” which takes viewers through the Driftless region as it explores areas untouched by glaciers, as well as plants and animals that can be dated back to the Ice Age.

Throughout January and February, there will be history exhibits at the Lanesboro Historical Museum, art exhibits at Lanesboro Arts, and in February Commonweal will host a series of short plays based on stories of water, among other events throughout town.

Cropp said he’s excited for Commonweal to add another element to the events by bringing stories to life to connect others with water.

“My hope is that as you would turn the face of a dime and see a different facet, that we’d be able to see a different facet of how water has an impact on our lives,” he said.

Water is what connects the world, and for the next six weeks, it will connect Lanesboro.

“It’s been really rewarding to collaborate with these other nonprofits,” Wiltgen said. “It’s great when you can do something bigger and not just be about your own organization.”

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