We Are Water MN is an interactive exhibit that focuses on individuals’ relationships with and responsibilities to water. The exhibit is collaboration between the Minnesota Humanities Center, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, Minnesota Historical Society, Minnesota Department of Health, Minnesota section of the American Water Works Association, as well as featured communities throughout greater Minnesota. For the past year, the exhibit toured six communities in Minnesota including Spicer, St. Peter, Red Wing, Sandstone, Lanesboro, and Detroit Lakes.
Featuring statewide content regarding Minnesota’s unique location atop a triple continental-scale water divide or water quality concerns such as nitrate contamination and fish kills, the exhibit provides information on issues concerning all of Minnesota’s waterways. Additionally, each host site exhibit featured local content on regional issues and different inspirational stories of water protection from members in the community. Beyond educating exhibit-goers, We Are Water MN also looked to engage with storytelling. The exhibit offered spaces for people to reflect on the meaning and experience of water in Minnesota and highlighted interviews from local people. In this way, We Are Water MN serves both an educational and community building purpose.
In the interim between the two-year tour that finished in April and the next one starting in 2018, the exhibit is due to visit some exciting locations. Each location will provide a unique experience for exhibit goers to connect with water and story.
First the State Fair
Look for portions of We Are Water MN at the State Fair as part of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s Eco Experience. The exhibit will be accompanied by the Water Bar, a free educational experience that serves flights of tap water and generates conversation about water.
Then Whitewater State Park
After the State Fair, the exhibit will travel about two hours south of the Twin Cities to Whitewater State Park in Winona County. The exhibit will stay at the state park starting in early September through the winter. The park has recently been awarded a GreenCorps member who will coordinate the exhibit experience and develop education training tools and programs to further engage visitors.
Located in the “driftless area” in the southeastern portion of the states, Whitewater State Park features over 27,000 acres of park with 120 overlooks and countless miles of trails to hike. The park opened in 1919 and thus will be celebrating a centennial birthday in 2019. Other features include a swimming beach and reservoir as well as trout fishing and camp grounds. Without many areas of standing water, the park also boasts less mosquitos than other state parks. The park is home to countless species of birds and even rattlesnakes thanks to rolling hills and rock shelfs.
While at Whitewater State Park, We Are Water MN will be accompanied by visitor engagement events each month to encourage participation in this unique educational opportunity. The exhibit will showcase statewide content as well as details on the ways that water issues vary around the state. Together with the existing exhibit on evolution of regional water issues around Whitewater, We Are Water MN builds a narrative about the quality of water around the state and how people connect with this invaluable resource. Featuring the exhibit fulfills one of the park’s goals to further cultivate a connection between water stewardship and the arts, as well. Consider visiting Whitewater State Park this fall to see amazing views and to engage with water in a unique way through the We Are Water MN exhibit.
After all of that, the exhibit will find a home at the State Capitol for two weeks this winter.