Think Water Utah
Water is an essential component of life on our planet – environmentally, culturally, and historically. What role does water play in your life?
Think Water Utah is a statewide collaboration and conversation on the critical topic of water presented by Utah Humanities and its partners. Learn more about Smithsonian exhibitions, along with local exhibits and events that explore how water is essential to Utah communities.
WINNER of the 2022 OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT AWARD from the Utah Division of State History, which recognizes significant contributions to history preservation in Utah. WINNER of the national 2023 LEADERSHIP IN HISTORY AWARD OF EXCELLENCE from the American Association for State & Local History.
#ThinkWaterUtah #MyWaterStory #IdeasInAction
Learn how water unites and divides us in our communities, our cultures, and our future!
Think Water Utah, presented by Utah Humanities and its partners, is a statewide collaboration and conversation on the critical topic of water. Along with the Smithsonian Water|Ways and H2O Today exhibitions, visit these community exhibitions around Utah in 2020-2022!
PARTNER EXHIBITION PROJECTS
- January 15 – September 6, 2021 | Decisions Downstream examines new models for predicting the environmental impacts of water development projects | Natural History Museum of Utah, 301 Wakara Way, Salt Lake City, UT 84108, 801.581.6927 | LEARN MORE HERE and TOUR THE EXHIBITION HERE
- February 18 – December 12, 2021 | Where does water in Salt Lake Valley come from? Where does it end up? Confluence explores water’s journey from mountain streams to Great Salt Lake in collaboration with six local organizations. Also see Think Water Through Art, exploring water as a universal theme in art from Africa to Europe to Asia | Utah Museum of Fine Arts, 410 Campus Center Drive, Salt Lake City, UT 84112, 801.581.7332 | UMFA ACTIVITIES
- February 25 – May 29, 2022 | Decisions Downstream shows how the choices we make about how to develop water resources have big impacts on river habitats | Swaner Preserve & EcoCenter, 1258 Center Drive, Park City, Utah 84098, 435.649.1767 | PARK CITY ACTIVITIES
- July 28 – October 31, 2022 | A Life of Adventure: The Legacy of A.K. and Ellen Reynolds recounts early boating on the Green River and features one of the Reynolds family's handmade historic cataract boats, along with the Rig to Flip documentary "Face Your Danger" based on reams of archival material donated with the boats. See a film preview here | Uintah County Heritage Museum, 155 E Main Street, Vernal, Utah 84078, 435.789.7399
H2O TODAY COMPANION EXHIBITIONS
- January 21 – April 19, 2021 | Utah's Waterways is a juried exhibition of 2-D artworks providing a localized and artistic visual complement to H20 Today | West Valley Arts, Utah Cultural Celebration Center, 1355 West 3100 South, West Valley City, UT 84119, 801.965.5100 | WEST VALLEY CITY ACTIVITIES
- April 26 – July 31, 2021 | Through Their Eyes: Photographs from the Second Powell Expedition is an exhibition featuring reconstructed images captured by John Wesley Powell’s Second Expedition paired with diary entries from members of Powell’s crew describing the breath-taking scenery along the Green River| Uintah County Heritage Museum, 155 East Main Street, Vernal, UT 84078, 435.789.7399 | VERNAL ACTIVITIES
- August 7, 2021 – October 31, 2022 | Bear River Boa Ogoi: the River is Life explores how the Bear River is the source of life for Northwestern Shoshone peoples, representing their physical, cultural, and spritual experiences both in the past and today | Hyrum City Museum, 50 West Main Street, Hyrum, UT 84319, 435.245.0208 | BEAR RIVER HERITAGE AREA ACTIVITIES
WATER|WAYS COMPANION EXHIBITIONS
- July 18, 2020 – June 30, 2022 | Our River is Our Community explores how the Green River is essential to life and culture in southeastern Utah | John Wesley Powell River History Museum, 1765 Main Street, Green River, UT 84525, 435.564.3427 | EXHIBIT TOUR VIDEO and GREEN RIVER ACTIVITIES
- August 22, 2020 - October 31, 2022 | Carved Rock: How Water Shaped Land & Life in Clear Creek Canyon explores how a canyon passageway carved through daunting mountains served as a source of life and symbol of sustenance to people using the canyon for the last 10,000 years | Fremont Indian State Park Museum, 3820 W Clear Creek Canyon Rd, Sevier, UT, 435.527.4631 | SEVIER VALLEY ACTIVITIES
- August 29 - December 31, 2020 | Drained: Using Water from the Sevier River shows how irrigation projects started in the 1860s have directed nearly all the Sevier River’s water to agriculture and industries and asks whether it's time to re-evaluate this water usage | Snow College Library - Richfield Campus, 800 W 200 S, Richfield, UT, 435.893.2238 | SEVIER VALLEY ACTIVITIES
- October 17 - December 13, 2020 | Water Right explores the idea that cultural values of different societies in the Kanab region have caused water resources to be allocated in decidedly different ways over time | Kanab Heritage Museum, 13 S 100 E, Kanab, UT, 435.644.3506 | KANAB ACTIVITIES
- December 19, 2020 – October 31, 2022 | Why Wetlands? is a Spanish-English bilingual, permanent exhibit that explores the Swaner wetlands and the critical role they play in the long-term health of the community and local ecosystem | Swaner Preserve & EcoCenter, 1258 Center Drive, Park City, UT, 435.797.8943 | PARK CITY ACTIVITIES
Think Water Utah is presented by Utah Humanities in collaboration with these extrordinary partners:
Water|Ways Exhibition Tour
What's Your Water Story?
Water is life. It forms our world and our lives. It allows us to travel and blocks our paths. It determines where we live and work and what we eat and drink. It is an essential natural resource that we struggle to access and control. Water shapes human culture – our ways of life. What does water mean to you? Think about your water/ways...
"In the Southwest we tend to think our water scarcity challenges are unique. It was valuable to learn through the exhibition about how parts of the country with much more precipitation and surface water face shortages." – Exhibition Visitor
2020-2021 TOUR OF UTAH!
The Smithsonian's Water|Ways exhibition has now left Utah. Thanks to our host partners for these great local activities!
- August 22 – October 11, 2020 | Fremont Indian State Park Museum, 3820 Clear Creek Canyon Road, Sevier, UT 84766, 435.527.4631 with the Snow College Library - Richfield Campus | SEVIER VALLEY ACTIVITIES
- October 17 – December 13, 2020 | Kanab Heritage Museum, 13 South 100 East, Kanab, UT 84741, 435.644.3506 | KANAB ACTIVITIES
- December 19, 2020 – March 27, 2021 | Swaner Preserve & EcoCenter, 1258 Center Drive, Park City, UT 84098, 435.797.8943 | PARK CITY ACTIVITIES
- April 3 – June 6, 2021 | John Wesley Powell River History Museum, 1765 Main Street, Green River, UT 84525, 435.564.3427 | GREEN RIVER ACTIVITIES
Special thanks to the Utah Museum of Fine Arts, for providing education outreach programming and training for tour hosts.
Water|Ways has been made possible in Utah by Utah Humanities. Water|Ways is part of Museum on Main Street, a collaboration between the Smithsonian Institution and State Humanities Councils nationwide. Support for Museum on Main Street has been provided by the United States Congress.
Water|Ways was adapted from an exhibition organized by the American Museum of Natural History (New York) and the Science Museum of Minnesota (St. Paul), in collaboration with Great Lakes Science Center (Cleveland), Field Museum (Chicago), Instituto Sangari (Sao Paulo), National Museum of Australia (Canberra), Royal Ontario Museum (Toronto), San Diego Natural History Museum, and Science Centre Singapore.
The Utah tour of Water|Ways is presented by Utah Humanities in partnership with local exhibition hosts: Fremont Indian State Park Museum with Snow College Library - Richfield, Kanab Heritage Museum, Swaner Preserve & EcoCenter, and the John Wesley Powell River History Museum.
H20 Today Exhibition Tour
Water is wonderful. But water is limited. And fragile. H2O Today explores the beauty and essential nature of water, our planet’s lifeblood. Through immersive content, interactives, and digital media, the exhibition explores the diversity and challenges of our global water sources, as well as Utah’s unique relationship with water. What does water mean to you?
“No water, no life. No blue, no green.” – Sylvia Earle, oceanographer
COMING TO A TOWN NEAR YOU!
Visit the Smithsonian's H20 Today exhibition and participate in great local activities!
- January 21 – April 19, 2021 | West Valley Arts at the Utah Cultural Celebration Center, 1355 West 3100 South, West Valley City, UT 84119, 801.965.5100 | WEST VALLEY CITY ACTIVITIES
- April 26 – July 31, 2021 | Uintah County Heritage Museum, 155 E. Main, Vernal, Utah 84078, 435.789.7399 | VERNAL ACTIVITIES
- August 7, 2021 – February 5, 2022 | Bear River Heritage Area at the Hyrum City Museum, 50 West Main Street, Hyrum, UT 84319, 435.245.0208 | BEAR RIVER HERITAGE AREA ACTIVITIES
- February 11 – May 31, 2022 | Frontier Homestead State Park Museum, 635 N Main Street, Cedar City, UT 84721, 435.586.9290 | CEDAR CITY ACTIVITIES
- June 4 – October 29, 2022 | Canyon Country Discover Center, 1117 N Main Street, Monticello, UT 84535, 435.587.2156 | FOUR CORNERS ACTIVITIES
H2O Today is organized by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service. It was adapted from an exhibition organized by the American Museum of Natural History (New York) and the Science Museum of Minnesota (St. Paul), in collaboration with Great Lakes Science Center (Cleveland), Field Museum (Chicago), Instituto Sangari (Sao Paulo), National Museum of Australia (Canberra), Royal Ontario Museum (Toronto), San Diego Natural History Museum, and Science Centre Singapore.
The Utah tour of H2O Today is presented by Utah Humanities in partnership with local exhibition hosts: West Valley Arts at the Utah Cultural Celebration Center, Uintah County Heritage Museum, the Bear River Heritage Area in partnership with Hyrum City Museum, Frontier Homestead State Park, and the Canyon Country Discovery Center.
Join Us Please!
- Learn about Utah Water Ways in a fascinating essay by Gregory Smoak, written especially for the Smithsonian exhibition tours!
- Listen to a new #ThinkWaterUtah story each week on our Utah Stories from the Beehive Archive website, download where you find your podcasts, or follow the show on Instagram @UtahBeehiveArchive.
- Lots to dive into at these recordings of Utah virtual events.
- Wade into upcoming tour events at our Think Water Utah CALENDAR!
- Join the conversation using #ThinkWaterUtah and #MyWaterStory
Explore More Utah Water Stories!
- Great Salt Lake Collaborative is a group of news, education and media organizations working to better inform and engage the public about the crisis facing Great Salt Lake.
- Listen to History of Water in Utah: "The Most Complicated Plumbing System..." with Greg Smoak, Megan van Frank, and Brad Westwood on Utah's Speak Your Piece podcast.
- Archives Month 2022 theme is water, THE primary source! Dip your toes into the history of water by exploring maps, oral histories, photos, and more. Archival records can provide a unique glimpse into the history of our relationship with water over time, from local government irrigation projects to water rights litigation, the diaries of famous river runners and western explorers to your grandmother’s account of a historic flood. This is your history, dive in!
- Saline Stories: an oral and visual history of Great Salt Lake, American West Center, University of Utah
- irreplaceable: a collective praise poem for Great Salt Lake, curated by poet and writer Nan Seymour
- Believe, by Terry Tempest Williams, is an essay about Great Salt Lake and our world in drought.
- Listen to the three-part series called "Is the Water Wet? Lake Powell Pipeline" from Zion Canyon Mesa (part 1, part 2, and part 3).
- Utah Historical Quarterly, Utah's official public history journal, has all back issues available online, including issues dedicated to the Great Salt Lake from 2019 and 1988. Read articles from Utah scholars about John Wesley Powell, the Strawberry Valley Project, or simply browse the issues to discover a piece of Utah’s water history.
- Glen Canyon Dam Online Exhibit and Saltair Photographic Exhibit presented by Utah Division of State History.
- Face Your Danger, short film about A.K. Reynolds cataract boats, river history, and the role of public history collections in Utah (Rig to Flip production)
- Search the Western Waters Digital Library for free public access to a wide range of significant resources on water in the West.
- Learn about the Utah State Archives Colorado River Compact collection, which marks the 100th anniversary of signing the compact. or dive straight into the collection here.
- Search the Utah State University Library Key Water Resources Guide that showcases resources and research tips related to the documentation of Water Resources in Utah and the Intermountain West.
- Utah’s Uncertain Water Future, a collaboration between KUED and KUER (PBS Utah).
- Water Is Life: Quality Matters, a project of Utah State University Extension Services.
Books, Films, and Resources for Educators
- Utah Reading List, plus Smithsonian Reading Lists for Adults and Children
- Smithsonian Film List
- H2O Today Exhibition Script (Español) and Self Guides for Adults (English and Español) and Families (English and Español)
- Water|Ways Exhibition Script in English and Español, and Docent Guide.
- Teacher Resources | Think Water Utah Primary Source Teacher's Guide for middle and high school students
- Teacher Resources | ARTrageous Online curriculum about Utah's Rivers at a Crossroads
- Teacher Resources | Poetry of Science lesson plan
- Teacher Resources | Water Drop Girl Scouts Patch Activity for Brownies, Cadets, Daisies, Juniors, and Seniors & Ambassadors
- Family Fun Resource | Utah Museum of Fine Arts Art Making Activities: Watercolor Landscapes and Making a Sketchbook
- September 8, 2023 | Think Water Utah Wins National Award!
- October 26, 2022 | Think Water Utah at the 2022 State History Conference
- September 16, 2022 | H2O Today in the Bear River Heritage Area Wins National Award! American Association for State & Local History Annual Meeting, Buffalo, NY
- July 23, 2022 onward | A Life of Adventure: the Legacy of A.K. & Ellen Reynolds, Uintah County Heritage Museum, Vernal
- June 4 - October 29, 2022 | H2O Today Exhibition, Canyon Country Discovery Center, Monticello
- February 25 - May 29, 2022 | Decisions Downstream, Swaner Preserve & EcoCenter, Park City
- February 11 - May 31, 2022 | H2O Today Exhibition, Frontier Homestead State Park, Cedar City
- August 7, 2021 - February 5, 2022 | H2O Today Exhibition, Hyrum City Museum and the Bear River Heritage Area
- April 26 - July 31, 2021 | H2O Today Exhibition, Uintah County Heritage Museum, Vernal
- April 3 - June 6, 2021 | Museum on Main Street Water Ways Exhibition, John Wesley Powell River History Museum, Green River
- February 18 - December 5, 2021 | Confluence Exhibition, Utah Museum of Fine Arts, Salt Lake City
- January 21 - April 19, 2021 | Smithsonian H2O Today Exhibition, Utah Cultural Celebration Center, West Valley City
- January 15 - July 31, 2021 | Decisions Downstream Exhibition, Natural History Museum of Utah, Salt Lake City
- December 19, 2020 - March 27, 2021 | Museum on Main Street Water Ways Exhibition, Swaner Preserve & EcoCenter, Park City
- October 17 - December 13, 2020 | Museum on Main Street Water Ways Exhibition, Kanab Heritage Museum, Kanab
- August 22 - October 11, 2020 | Museum on Main Street Water Ways Exhibition, Fremont Indian State Park Museum, Sevier Valley
- January 27-28, 2020 | Museum on Main Street Water Ways Utah Team Program Planning Workshop, Richfield and Sevier
- August 12-13, 2019 | Museum on Main Street Water Ways Utah Team Orientation Workshop, Salt Lake City
- Summer 2023 | Water Is Life, Water Is Power: The Confluence of Water, History, and the Public in Utah, Gregory E. Smoak, Utah Historical Quarterly, Vol. 91, No. 3, pp. 198-211 (Summer 2023)
- February 17, 2023 | Making History: How the American West Center and Utah Humanities are Working Together to Improve People’s Lives, University of Utah College of Humanities
- October 27, 2022 | What role can history play in saving the Great Salt Lake, solving Utah's water woes?, KSL.com
- August 2022 | Every History Has a Nature: Thoughts on Doing Public Environmental History, Gregory E. Smoak, The Public Historian, Vol. 44, No. 3, pp. 9-23 (August 2022)
- August 4, 2022 | We Have to Put Great Salt Lake First, Nate Housley Opinion, Salt Lake Tribune
- August 3, 2022 | Prestigious Award Paying Dividents to Hyrum City Musuem in More Ways Than One, HJ News
- June 24, 2022 | Hyrum City Museum Awarded AASLH National Leadership Award, KVNU For the People (start at minute 17:20)
- June 9, 2022 | It's Not Too Late (Yet) For A New Water Policy, KUER Radio West
- March 24, 2022 | Exhibit at Swaner EcoCenter Lets Public Dive Into Watershed Modeling, USU Utah State Today
- March 10, 2022 | Smithsonian’s traveling, interactive exhibit ‘H2O Today’ opens in Cedar City, ponders water crisis, Cedar City News
- January 26, 2022 | Boa Ogoi and the Bear River Massacre on Wednesday's Access Utah, Utah Public Radio
- December 26, 2021 | Why Utah must take back control from the water buffaloes, Editorial Board writes, Salt Lake Tribune
- September 26, 2021 | Library showcases downstream decisions, The Utah Statesman
- September 1, 2021 | President's Comments - Water is Life, Gregory E. Smoak, National Council on Public History, Public History News, Volume 41, Number 4, September 2021
- August 6, 2021 | H2O Today Smithsonian exhibit to be on display at Hyrum Museum, Cache Valley Daily
- July 20, 2021 | Delayed exhibit seems even more fitting with everyone talking about water or the lack of, Cache Valley Daily
- May 27, 2021 | All hands on deck: Utah’s statewide water history effort, History at Work Blog, National Council on Public History
- May 1, 2021 | Smithsonian Exhibition: Water|Ways at John Wesley Powell River History Museum, Moab Happenings
- April 21, 2021 | Powell River History Museum hosts Smithsonian exhibit, Moab Sun News
- April 19, 2021 | HISTORY OF WATER IN UTAH: “THE MOST COMPLICATED PLUMBING SYSTEM…”, Speak Your Piece Podcast (season 3: episode 1)
- April 14, 2021 | The Essential A&E Picks for April 15-21: Confluence Celebration, City Weekly
- April 12, 2021 | Water Storytelling with Larry Cesspooch and Utah Humanities, Federation of State Humanities Councils Blog
- March 31, 2021 | Smithsonian Exhibition Continues Utah Tour at the JWP River History Museum, ETV News
- November 15, 2020 | Water Topic of Traveling Smithsonian Exhibition at Kanab Heritage Museum, Southern Utah News
- October 15, 2020 | Smithsonian Traveling Exhibition Exploring Water’s Environmental And Cultural Impact Coming To Kanab, Southern Utah News
- October 13, 2020 | Kanab Smithsonian WaterWays, VisitSouthernUtah.com
- September 9, 2020 | Smithsonian Water | Ways exhibit debuts, The Richfield Reaper
- July 29, 2020 | Snow College Richfield selected as a host for Smithsonian exhibit, The Richfield Reaper
- July 17, 2020 | Contact with Mary Dixon: John Wesley Powell River History Museum - New Exhibition, PBS Utah video portal
- July 10, 2020 | Our River is Our Community, Moab Sun Times
- January 15, 2020 | Hyrum museum and BRHA putting the call out for water exhibit, Cache Valley Daily (with audio link to interview on KVNU’s For the People)
- January 15, 2020 | Smithsonian seeks companion displays for upcoming Water/Ways exhibit, Cache Valley Daily
- November 10, 2022 | Think Water Utah Receives 2022 Outstanding Achievement Award from the Utah Division of State History
- June 28, 2022 | As Part of Utah Humanities’ Statewide Think Water Utah project, H2O Today in the Bear River Heritage Area Receives Prestigious National AASLH Award of Excellence
- May 31, 2022 | Smithsonian Exhibition, H20 Today, Continues Utah Tour at the Canyon Country Discovery Center
- May 2, 2022 | As Part of Think Water Utah, the John Wesley Powell River History Museum Offers Two Events
- March 11, 2022 | As Part of Think Water Utah, Decisions Downstream Tours to the Swaner Preserve & EcoCenter in Park City
- February 19, 2022 | Smithsonian Exhibition, H20 Today, Continues Utah Tour at the Frontier Homestead State Park Museum
- October 4, 2021 | Terry Tempest Williams Featured at Brigham City Museum of Art & History Virtual Event for Think Water Utah & Utah Humanities Book Festival
- August 3, 2021 | Smithsonian Exhibition, H20 Today, Continues Utah Tour in the Bear River Heritage Area at the Hyrum City Museum
- April 27, 2021 | Smithsonian Exhibition, H20 Today, Continues Utah Tour at the Uintah County Heritage Museum
- April 6, 2021 | Confluence: Explore water through art, science, and history
- March 23, 2021 | Smithsonian Exhibition, Water|Ways, Continues Utah Tour at the John Wesley Powell River History Museum
- March 22, 2021 | Think Water Utah Exhibitions Now Showing in the Salt Lake City and Park City Area
- January 13, 2021 | Smithsonian Exhibition, H20 Today, Begins Utah Tour with West Valley Arts at the Utah Cultural Celebration Center
- December 15, 2020 | Smithsonian Exhibition, Water|Ways, Continues Utah Tour at the Swaner Preserve & EcoCenter
- October 6, 2020 | Smithsonian Exhibition, Water|Ways, Continues Utah Tour at the Kanab Heritage Museum
- August 20, 2020 | Smithsonian Exhibition, Water|Ways, Kicks Off Utah Tour with Opening at the Fremont Indian State Park
Many thanks to our vital partners and generous funders for their support of Think Water Utah, and to Justin McFarland, photographer of the Great Salt Lake Causeway.