Explore more than 200 years of water analysis and protection in the Delaware River Valley and beyond.

On view September 14, 2021-August 5, 2023
Hach Gallery

Water flows from the tap. It bubbles along creeks. It crashes on the beach. Water constantly flows around us in streams, rivers, bays, and oceans, and in laboratories, factories, farms, treatment plants, and city pipes. As water moves from place to place and use to use, our demands on this resource change, too. 

But how do we understand how water moves, what it carries, and the ways we can protect it? Find out by taking a watery journey through history and science with Downstream, an exhibition exploring more than 200 years of water analysis and protection in the Delaware River Valley and beyond.

Accolades for Downstream include a 2022 Institutional Achievement Award from PA Museums, a 2022 Award of Excellence from the American Association for State and Local History, and the Society for the History of Technology’s 2022 Dibner Award for Excellence in Museum Exhibits

Learn more about the history of water by exploring the resources, articles, podcasts, and videos below.


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.

Downstream was made possible in part by a Cultural and Historical Support Grant from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. Additional support was provided by the Alafi Family Foundation, and through a Science Initiative Grant from the Society for Analytical Chemists of Pittsburgh and the Spectroscopy Society of Pittsburgh. Downstream was also made possible by the support of lending institutions including the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, the Delaware River Basin Commission, the Independence Seaport Museum, and the Philadelphia Water Department.

The Institute’s Hach Gallery is named in memory of Clifford C. Hach through the generosity of his wife, Kathryn C. “Kitty” Hach-Darrow (1922–2020). In the 1940s, the married chemists cofounded the Hach Chemical Company, which became a leading producer of water-testing reagents and instruments.


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