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 in London in March 2013 and travelled across the UK for 3 years. It has travelled to different parts of Europe, and was resident across Rotterdam with the Rotterdamse Schouwburg 2014 – 2016. It is currently travelling across Western Australia with Perth International Arts Festival until 2018, after which their collection will be housed permanently with the WA Museum.
The Museum started on a street corner in Soho, commissioned by Artakt and London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine 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.
For July 2014 Museum of Water was installed in the Deadhouse under the fountains of Somerset House, commissioned by Artsadmin and LIFT, in partnership with Imagine 2020.
Museum of Water is an invitation to take part and to have your say.
The context we are making this work in has changed with each new water crisis. The Museum’s travels around Britain began and continued in years of repeated and catastrophic floods, first in Somerset then in Cumbria. The American water crises of Flint, Nestle and DAPL have brought new focus to global water management and sourcing. Water rights have never been so hotly contested: the bottled water industry nears a global market value of $200 billion, with a huge alternative cost to the world in plastic consumption.
We have had the chance to travel from the Netherlands to Australia, from flood to drought, re-tracing ancient trade routes for a whole new exchange. We work in Australia now in the age of a ‘nil by water’ immigration policy, but also at a time when rivers nearby have been given human rights. Before our eyes the Mediterranean Sea has turned from pleasure garden to graveyard, as the flood of refugees escaping from a drought and water war in Syria has brought to breaking point the coping and caring strategies of different countries, questioning our kindness and threatening the very coalition of Europe.
No one could have predicted the shocking change of contexts this water work has encountered, and of course our relationship with water will continue to adapt rapidly over the coming years, in new and unexpected ways. Museum of Water is an act of witness. It explores the boundary lines of our bodies and our thinking, and considers more fluid way of understanding the world and our inter-relations.
This is a radically different kind of museum, that makes of each us donor, artist and curator. The Museum prizes the gifts people have given us, just as they come. We prize the effort that people have gone to, the staggeringly creative leaps they have made, and the feelings that they denote. 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.