Shaped by Water Exhibition, October 2011 - May 2012
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Museum Entrance
Museum Entrance

One of the first things to be installed was the outdoor banner for the exhibition. The graphic designers choose my artwork South Bay as the "stock photography" for the theme graphic.

Wildlife in Yellowstone and Grand Teton: pika, grizzly bears, bison and elk
Painting the Gallery Walls Blue

Since this is an exhibit about water, the gallery walls just had to be blue! The lighter blue is the primer coat and the final blue is the brighter one.

Hanging one of the panels
Hanging one of the panels

Hanging the interpretive panels is hard work - a large panel such as this one takes five people to make sure it was aligned before it was velcroed to the wall.

Moving Barreled by Plastic art installation
Move Day - How did they fit this in there?

On Sunday October 2nd we moved all of the large displays to the museum. Kathleen Egan's eco-sculpture, Barreled by Plastic just barely fit into the back of the van.

Barreled by Plastic art installation makes for a great photo op
Barreled by Plastic

And here is the sculpture fully assembled. It makes for a great photo op.

Attaching one of 153 One Gallon Water Bottles
Attaching one of 153 One Gallon Water Bottles

One of the installations is a 72 foot long wooden platform that curves back and forth like a river with 153 one gallon bottles on top - showing people the average daily water usage per person in the Santa Clara Valley.

Painting on the Letters
Painting on the Letters

The wood platform below the bottles is color coded and labeled by average household use such as toilet flushing or showers.

153 one gallon bottles
153 one gallon bottles

And here it is completed. What luck that the donated water bottles had blue caps!

Placing Plants on the Green Roof
Placing Plants on the Green Roof

This sweet playhouse sized model has a living green roof. The plants are various sedums (succulents).

Children playing inside Green Roof Playhouse
If you build it, they will come ...

The green roof play house is an instant hit! These kids couldn't resist going inside - they walked right into the little house while the finishing touches of assembly were being done.

Putting the Pond Liner On
Putting the Pond Liner On

This box will hold a greywater wetlands to demonstrate the concept of "Laundry to Landscape" where water discharged from your washing machine can be used to irrigate your landscape.

Arranging Wetlands Plants
Old Faithful and Daisy Geysers

Plants for the wetlands came from a pond at Palo Alto's Foothills Park. A few hearty volunteers dug out Juncus and Cattails from the muddy edge of the pond and transported them to the museum. Artist Mark Brest van Kempen is aesthetically arranging the plants on site.

Entrance to the Exhibition Gallery
Entrance to the Exhibition Gallery

Here is what people saw when they walked into the museum. The large image of water is a photograph printed on fabric that gently undulates as people walk by. We also commissioned a sound designer to make a looping track of water sounds that played on speakers at the entrance.

First Peoples Section
First Peoples' Section

The exhibition explored 5 historical periods beginning with the indigenous people. We worked with a tribal consultant (and were informed that we were the first Bay Area Museum to invite the tribe to tell their own story!). Here is a recreation of the native landscape with a mural showing indigenous life.

Map with LEDs to show you where your water comes from
Where Does Your Water Come From?

Other than the response "the tap," most people don't know the answer to this question. We created an interactive map where you could push the button with your city listed next to it and the map of California would light up (using electroluminescent wires) to show you how your water comes from very far away rivers.

Scale to demonstrate your hidden water use
Your Hidden Water Use

This was the most popular display in the exhibition - plates of food you could place on a "scale" with LED lights that lit up to tell you how many gallons of water it took to produce a pound of that food. People were amazed to learn how much water it takes to produce beef and how little water goes into producing a head of lettuce.

Aerator demonstrating how waste water is treated
Where does your water go when you're done with it?

This aeration cylinder reveals one of the steps in treating our sewage at the local wastewater treatment plant. Oxygen is vigorously bubbled through the sewage sludge to aid the naturally occuring bacteria in breaking down the organic matter.

The Future of Water
The Future

After presenting what could seem like a depressing history what humans have done to mess up our water resources and our wasteful use of water, we wanted to end things on a hopeful note. Most history museums are only about history but we included a section about the future with hands-on demonstrations of simple things people can do as individuals to make a difference.

Children playing with hand water pump
Past and Future Fun

This was the most popular outdoor display for children. They loved the old fashioned hand pump and would take turns trying to pump it as fast as they could (it required weekly repairs!). The water flows through permeable concrete - a demonstration of a new technology available today for reducing stormwater flows and pollution that enters our streams with the extra bonus of increasing groundwater recharge.

Water themed Labyrinth

We also wanted to include a quite contemplative experience in the exhibit - this labyrinth of river stones with quotes about water. It's dedicated to one of our exhibition committee members and a dear friend of mine, Patty Rosewater, who died suddenly from liver failure a month before the exhibit opened.