The Museum is itinerant. We travel because we understand that not everyone can, and we want to hear as many voices as possible.
Museum of Water began on a street corner in Soho in London in March 2013 and travelled across the UK for 3 years. For the whole of July 2014 Museum of Water was installed in Somerset House for LIFT Festival. It has since travelled to different parts of Europe, and was resident across Rotterdam with the Rotterdamse Schouwburg 2014-2016. It travelled across Western Australia with Perth International Arts Festival 2016-2018, and is now beginning in Toronto with Luminato Festival 2020-22.
The Museum was originally commissioned by Artakt and LSHTM as part of the bi-centennial celebrations for John Snow, who, by walking the streets of London, painstakingly plotted the journey of cholera from water pumps right into our stomachs, saving hundreds of thousands of lives. His expeditions are echoed by the new journeys of people who have gathered water for the Museum, adding to the story of water here.
Museum of Water is an invitation to take part and to have your say.
No one could have predicted the shocking change of contexts this water work has encountered. The Museum’s travels around Britain began in years of repeated and catastrophic floods. The American water crises of Flint, Nestle and DAPL brought new focus to global water management, sourcing and water rights.
Travelling from the Netherlands to Australia, from flood to drought, along the colonial trade routes we have attempted a whole new exchange. We worked in Australia in the age of a ‘nil by water’ immigration policy, but also at a time when rivers nearby have been given human rights. The Mediterranean Sea has turned from pleasure garden to graveyard, as refugees escaping from a drought and water war in Syria brought to breaking point the coping and caring strategies of different countries, questioning our kindness and threatening the coalition of Europe.
Museum of Water is an act of witness. It explores the boundary lines of our bodies and our thinking, and considers more fluid ways of understanding the world and our inter-relations.
This is a radically different kind of museum, that makes each one of us donor, artist and curator. The Museum prizes the gifts people have given us, just as they come. Every act of choosing and gathering is a creative act, each bottle and contents a thing of beauty, a profound undertaking, a surprising exploit, a gift. Thank you to every person that has donated to the Museum.
Marvellous marvellous water. Here is to you, from all of us.
Museum of Water was shortlisted for European Museum of the Year 2016
Special Commendation, CIWEM 2014 Nick Reeves Award
“Best Special Exhibition” in The Museum Oskars 2015
See Museum of Water Flickr for a visual history of the Museum.