Museum of Nature launches water project

By Chantaie Allick

1The Canadian Museum of Nature opened the floodgates for water issue discussions in the country with a lecture series talk by Rob de Loë, a University of Waterloo professor and water expert. The new project includes a traveling exhibit, entitled Canada’s Waterscapes, a new permanent gallery, called the Water Gallery, and a lecture series.

The traveling exhibit features interactive models and tanks filled with live frogs, fish and other aquatic species. Small fish stare wide-eyed at viewers from a riverbed of sand and debris in a display dedicated to the Rideau River.

“The water project aims to engage a sense of wonder in people—have people experience the beautiful, the unusual, the complex, the large, the small and the everyday,” said Carol Campbell, a senior project manager at the Canadian Museum of Nature.

As the 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen approaches, Canadians are tuned in to the effects of climate change on the environment and on our natural resources, including water. Campbell said the exhibit is meant to help Canadians “understand the challenges and to participate in sound decision-making as it relates to water.”

“Until recently, many of us have taken our water for granted. We are now asking questions and wanting to understand the issues,” said Campbell. The museum said it is responding to a growing interest among Canadians about water.

Living in the Ottawa watershed that includes the Rideau River, water-related issues should be especially important to Ottawans.

De Loë’s lecture is the first in a series, titled Voices: A Canadian Perspective on Water, featuring water experts from around Canada. Canada’s Waterscapes will remain on display at the museum until early next year when it will begin a three-year cross-Canada tour.

Before a mixed crowd of white-haired couples, young students and children shifting restlessly beside their parents, De Loë spoke about the importance of water to Canadians and to human existence.

Considered one of Canada’s foremost experts on water, De Loë used his hands and shoulders as a second form of communication during his talk, clenching his fingers and moving his arms to mimic the flow of water as he spoke passionately about one of Canada’s greatest resources.

De Loë is optimistic about our abilities as individuals to make a difference. “We can figure out how to make that link between us as individuals and our planet,” he said.

Hartwells has published more pictures of the water exhibit launch.

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