Shaped by Water: Past, Present & Future
August 1-December 30, 2012
Shaped by Water: Past, Present & Future is a traveling exhibition created by the Los Altos History Museum in 2011. The History Museum of Los Gatos will host the exhibition from August 1st through December 31st, 2012.
“Shaped by Water – Past, Present & Future” inspires a deep connection to this precious
and essential resource through indoor and outdoor exhibits that incorporate artifacts,
stories, photographs, maps and artwork by San Francisco Bay Area–based artists. The media exhibition Water, Water Everywhere: Paean to a Vanishing Resource, a film exploration of water issues, will also be featured throughout the duration of the exhibit. Films not included in the exhibit will be featured at our September 27th film screening event.
The story of water in this region is told from a historical perspective beginning with the
indigenous tribal people up to modern day through a comprehensive and interactive
exhibition experience. It underscores how each period in our local history has been
characterized by a changing relationship between humans and water. For example, the
tribal people had an intimate relationship to water and moved around in response to the
wet and dry seasons. This historical period is showcased in a native landscape and shelter
installation that documents how water supported their life needs while they lived near
creeks and the bay. A special sound station will feature three recorded tribal stories about
New immigrants to Santa Clara Valley brought dramatic changes in water usage and
management beginning with the Spanish missionaries who built small rock dams on
creeks, and irrigation ditches. The Mexicans further transformed the watershed through
their ranching practices. Later, immigrants from the eastern United States brought even
more significant changes during the Gold Rush with the proliferation of agriculture and
digging of wells. The exhibition highlights this period with an interactive model of a
groundwater artesian well along with panels describing the environmental impacts of the
Spanish expeditions, Mexican ranchos, and the Gold Rush.
As our region entered the era known as the “Valley of Hearts Delight,” windmills and
water tanks dotted the landscape and the rapid depletion of groundwater made a more
organized water infrastructure necessary. Conserving local surface water in reservoirs
was one of the major accomplishments of this time. Among the highlights visitors can
view documenting this period are original film footage of the Santa Clara Valley 1937
flood, as well as panels with historic dam building photographs and charts showing the
dramatic drops in groundwater levels due to the pumping of water for thirsty farms.
The post-World War II boom brought even larger water infrastructure projects. The
massive state and federal water projects and water treatment facilities transformed the
availability and use of water. As the population of the Santa Clara Valley grew in the
post-World War II boom, the Valley went from being completely self-sufficient using
local water to 50-100 percent reliant on imported water. The “business” of water and
water companies became necessary to help manage community water needs and
Current consumption patterns can be explored in exhibits that uncover the amount of
water needed to produce our foods to current and future trends in local water
consumption. An outdoor display will show visitors in actual gallons how much water
they use on a daily basis. Interactive maps will be displayed where at a push of a button
visitors can find out where their water comes from, as well as locate local reservoirs.
Environmental concerns such as pollution of groundwater and surface water, Superfund
sites, and water waste treatment processes are also emphasized. A map will help local
visitors identify what watershed they live in and there will be a “Creek Stories” area
where visitors can write down stories of their experiences with our local creeks.
Looking into the future, our growing population and changes in rainfall patterns have the
potential to severely impact our water supply. The exhibition outlines future challenges
and outcomes with concrete ideas to reduce consumption, reuse, and recycle water.
A fun, interactive fish ladder display teaches young and old visitors alike about the
important role of fish ladders. Resources and ideas for action will be provided to visitors
to continue and extend their thoughtful use of water.
The History Museum
Saturday, August 25
Location: The Art Museum | 4 Tait Avenue
Thursday, September 27
4-6 pm, FREE
The History Museum (and Los Gatos Creek)
Saturday, October 13
Tickets $35, ages 18+
Purchase your tickets today at Committee for Green Foothills.