Smithsonian exhibit comes to Western Science Center


A new Smithsonian Institution exhibit, highlighting the importance of water, made its national debut at the Western Science Center in Hemet on August 13, where it will be on display until November 27, 2016.

The exhibit, entitled “H2O Today,” is organized by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibit Service (SITES). The Western Science Center is a Smithsonian affiliate. Eastern Municipal Water District (EMWD) is a co-sponsor of the exhibit, along with the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.

Upon entering the Western Science Center, guests will be treated to a visual and interactive series of displays designed to educate about the importance of water to the environment, economy and lifestyles of the nearly 7 billion people on earth.

Interactive displays focus on drought conditions throughout the world and on California’s ongoing drought. A bank of video displays includes a segment from the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration on coral reefs and aquatic life.

Guests will see a visual display of discarded plastic water bottles and the impact they have on the environment and learn how much water it takes to produce the plastic bottles – often times much more than the bottle itself holds.

One of the highlights is a kid-friendly exhibit where they may select items and learn how much water it takes to produce each item. They will get a receipt detailing their “water purchase.” For example, a purchase of a pair of jeans (2,000 gallons), a smart phone (240 gallons) and a pound of beef (1,799 gallons) would equal 4,039 gallons of water used to create or grow those items.

From there, kids can step on a scale that converts their weight into gallons of water; or they may visit a hand-crank station that provides an understanding of how much energy it takes to pump groundwater.

And to learn about the impact that humans have on weather and the water cycle, an art and educational instillation will create weather patterns based on an individuals’ heart rate. This marks the worldwide debut of the interactive weather station.

“H20 Today” was adapted from an exhibition organized by the American Museum of Natural History in New York City ( and the Science Museum of Minnesota in St. Paul (, in collaboration with Great Lakes Science Center in Cleveland; The Field Museum in Chicago; Instituto Sangari in Sao Paulo; National Museum of Australia in Canberra; Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, Canada; San Diego Natural History Museum; and Science Centre Singapore with PUB Singapore.

The Western Science Center is open Tuesday through Sunday, from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. It is located at 2345 Searl Parkway in Hemet.