“The Michigan Humanities Council and Artworks bring the Smithsonian to Big Rapids.”

Water/Ways is part of the Smithsonian Museum on Main Street initiative designed to bring high quality exhibits to small-town cultural organizations. Artworks is one of six locations in Michigan that will be part of this exciting touring exhibit. Water/Ways focuses on the unique impact and essential role that water plays in our communities. This exhibit allows Michigan to rediscover the value of water as both a resource for humans and a cultural symbol.

The Muskegon River Watershed, which flows through Big Rapids and all of Mecosta County, has a rich history and has been instrumental in shaping our culture and our way of life. This interactive exhibit will remind our community of the importance of our waterways and encourage us to engage in dialogue and stewardship. Also, to remind us that water is central to the rituals of our life and that we are all downstream.

Artworks has partnered with many community organizations to design events, additional exhibits and programs that will deepen our understanding of what the water means to us.

“No water, no life. No blue, no green.” Sylvia Earle, oceanographer.


You Can Help Support Water/Ways in Big Rapids
Sponsorships for Water/Ways supports the programs and costs associated with the exhibit, marketing, educational programming, and more.

Our Partners

  • Big Rapids Downtown Business Association Big Rapids Garden Club
  • Big Rapids Jaycees
  • Big Rapids Community Library
  • Big Rapids Public Schools
  • City of Big Rapids
  • Ducks Unlimited
  • Ferris State University Drawn to Arts Student Organization
  • Ferris State University Fine Arts Gallery
  • Ice Mountain
  • Mecosta County Chamber of Commerce
  • Mecosta County Convention and Visitors Bureau
  • Mecosta County Parks
  • Mecosta-Osceola Conservation District
  • Muskegon River Watershed Assembly
  • Robert B. Annis Water Resource Institute
  • USDA Natural Resources and Conservation District
  • West Michigan Shoreline Regional Development Commission


About Artworks
Artworks is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization whose mission is to initiate and support humanities and arts that enrich our lives, nurture our creative effort and vitalize the community. This community art center houses an art gallery, gift shop, and education center has been located at the crossroads of Michigan and Maple in downtown Big Rapids since 2000.


A partial list of Water/Ways events and exhibits:
The Water/Ways Exhibit will be at Artworks from September 29 through November 10.

  • Opening Reception of Water/Ways exhibit: October 4, 5:30-7:30pm
    FSU Fine Arts Gallery: H2O exhibit. Featuring artists: Loralee Grace, Randall David Tipton, and Tom Tomasek
  • Muskegon River Trash Bash cleanup: An organized cleanup of the Muskegon river
  • Brown Bag Presentations: Rain gardens, Michigan’s Water Resources, Vernal Ponds, Respect the Muskegon, Wetlands, Invasive Species
  • Kayak Water Tours
  • Film Viewing: Search for Sustainability, Making Waves: Battle for the Great Lakes, The Ottaway: Rebirth of a river, Yellow Jug, Old Jug
  • Labor Day Arts and Crafts Fair: Project Wet, Sammy Salmon, and more
  • Book Reading: “The Muskegon, the Majesty and Tragedy of Michigan’s Greatest River.” by Jeff Alexander
  • Splish Splash: “Water and You” exhibit
  • Self-Guided Tours: Stroll the Riverwalk and White Pine Trail
  • Project Wet: Water education for teachers and our community
  • Osceola-Lake and Mecosta Conservation District: Meet and greet your natural resource providers

For more information, visit
Note: Programming will be updated through August.

106 N. Michigan Ave.
Big Rapids, MI