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Water: H20=Life was an ode to the beauty and wonder of water, and a penetrating look at the way humans have used water for thousands of years.

This international exhibition, shown exclusively in Australia at the National Museum in Canberra, analysed the natural and cultural sides of the fluid that underpins life on earth.

A man and woman shown in silhouette, standing in front of a blue rippled screen, with the words 'NEPO', 'SU', 'AGUA', 'EAU', 'WATER' and other partially visible text in white.
The word 'water' projected on a fog screen in different languages

A valuable global resource

Using imaginative presentations, multimedia, live animals, soundscapes, objects and dioramas, the Water exhibition aimed to make people more aware of water's key role on the planet and of the need for it to be valued highly, rather than taken for granted.

Visitors to the exhibition:

  • explored how life has adapted to some of the wettest, driest and iciest places on earth
  • investigated the extraordinary physical and chemical properties of water
  • analysed how people have used water throughout history
  • discovered some of the many innovative technologies being used to give people access to much-needed water supplies
  • were challenged to reconsider the way they viewed water.
An arm extends into a stream of water coming from a block of ice, mounted on a circular plinth. Below the ice block, water spirals around the top of another plinth, which flows into a third plinth where a whitish vapour rises from the centre.
Visitors could experience the three states of water — vapour, liquid and ice

Water: H20=Life was created by the American Museum of Natural History in New York, assisted by the Science Museum of Minnesota, St Paul. It was curated by the American Museum of Natural History’s Dr Eleanor Sterling.

The exhibition travelled the world to various international partners and completed its Istanbul show before coming to Australia. As the exhibition travelled to each international location, a module telling the local water story was added.

Australia’s water story

The National Museum of Australia was the sole Australian venue for Water: H20=Life. The Museum's local exhibition component, 'Australia's water story', examined:

  • animal, bird and plant adaptation on the world's driest inhabited continent
  • how Indigenous people have related to water
  • the development of water resources in Australia
  • water as one of the biggest issues confronting Australians.
Recycled water discussion: a nice drop
  • Last updated: 20 March 2010
  • 4 programs
A microbiologist, a social scientist and an infectious diseases physician explore the benefits, pitfalls and palatability of recycled water.

10 Apr 2010

The Age of Stupid – film screening and discussion

Jenny Newell hosts a public screening of Franny Armstrong’s drama documentary about climate change, The Age of Stupid. This audio consists of her introductions and the ensuing discussion led by climate change scientist Will Steffan and science communicator Julian Cribb.
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Presenters: Julian Cribb and Will Steffan

04 Mar 2010

Water and the spirit

Writer John Archer shares his experience of travelling the world recording the stories, legends, myths and rituals of cultures that revere water.
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