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How do we understand how water moves, what it carries, the ways it can be threatened, and our choices for how to protect it?

Water flows from the tap and you drink it. It bubbles along creeks and you fish in it. It crashes on the beach and you splash in it. It puddles, evaporates, and rains down again, feeding streams, rivers, and oceans. Water is constantly flowing around us, through the natural world of streams, rivers, bays, and oceans, and in the scientific spaces of laboratories, water treatment plants, agricultural irrigation systems, and municipal pipes. As water moves from place to place and use to use, our demands on it change, too.

Coming in fall 2021, the Science History Institute museum will take visitors on a watery journey of history and science with Downstream, a new exhibition that explores more than 200 years of water analysis and water protection in the United States. But you don’t have to wait to learn more about the history of water; you can dive into the deep world of water right now from the comfort of your home.

Research  |   Read  |   Listen  |   Watch


Are you a researcher, teacher, or student interested in the history of water? Explore the images, advertisements, documents, and oral histories in our digital collections. Or learn about the important individuals who worked on, in, and around water in our historical biographies.


Do you like reading compelling narratives in the history of science? Enjoy these articles on water and history from Distillations, our digital magazine.


Enjoy listening to stories about the past?  Check out these water-related episodes of our acclaimed Distillations podcast series.


Looking for sights, sounds, and history? Watch these clips for more on the meetup of water, science, and history.