Maritime Museum has free admission

The Smithsonian Institute’s Water/Ways traveling exhibit is on display at the Pontchartrain Basin Maritime Museum and Research Center and will be available for viewing through Oct. 9.

The exhibit, opened several weeks ago but was closed due to the aftermath of Hurricane Ida. It is being offered for viewing free of charge through the end of September.

For the rest of the time that the exhibit is on display, the regular fee to visit the museum of $8 will be charged.

The museum, located on the banks of the Tchefuncte River, contains a comprehensive collection of boats, maritime gear, ship models, art and all manner of memorabilia connected with the history of maritime activities on nearby Lake Pontchartrain and surrounding waterways.

The museum is open Tuesdays through Fridays from 1-4 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Guided tours can also be arranged, by appointment, from 9 a.m. until noon. Guided tours are open to student groups, organizations and groups who might choose to visit the museum together for the guided tour.

The colorful, interactive display is spread over numerous large, curved panels that guide the visitor from one panel to the next. The importance of water to all facets of human life is covered on the panels that feature outstanding photography and comprehensive lessons about the importance of water.

Water/Ways is part of the Smithsonian Institute’s travelling exhibition service, Museums on Main Street, which works with state humanities councils to bring highly informative programs to communities throughout the nation.

Jim MacPherson, director of the Maritime Museum, said of the exhibit, “Water impacts every one of us. Without water, there would be no life on this Earth as we know it. Water is essential to our survival and the Water/Ways exhibit tells of the importance of water in a vivid, beautiful way that all can comprehend. Visitors will discover how water impacts our lives in ways that they perhaps they never thought of before.

"Seventy percent of the Earth’s surface is covered with water and water plays a part in our lives in so many ways. Visitors to the Water/Ways exhibit will go away with a new appreciation for the role water plays in our lives,” he said.

Roy Blackwood, who has long been associated with the museum and served as its director at one time, said, "This comprehensive display illuminates how we use water from the day to day connections we have with water to how much water is a part of our lives. We use water to drink, clean our clothes, dishes and just about everything else, water can generate power, we use water for recreation...the list is almost endless."

Chris Robert, an executive with the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, was instrumental in helping to bring the Water/Ways exhibit to the museum. Roberts said the exhibit is especially relevant to residents of Southeast Louisiana, an area that, throughout its history, has largely been defined by the extensive network of waterways in the area.

A steady stream of visitors came to the museum to view Water/Ways when it opened several weeks ago, but the destruction brought on by Hurricane Ida’s arrival on Aug. 29 forced the temporary closing of the museum and generally disrupted the lives of many residents of the Florida Parishes.

“We are open once again and we welcome visitors to the museum. This is a wonderful exhibit and the museum staff and volunteers have put much time and effort into bringing this outstanding presentation to our extended community. We hope that those who are interested in learning all about the importance of water in our lives will take the time to come by the museum and visit this outstanding exhibition.”

He added, “while you are here, you can also explore all the other ‘treasures’ that our museum offers. Our great museum awaits your visitation.

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