The Smithsonian predicts the next global conflict will be over the scarcity of water, said Executive Director of the Latah County Historical Society Dulce Kersting.
Kersting said this impending problem inspired them to create a traveling exhibit of the Smithsonian that will be in Moscow Dec. 9 to Jan. 1: “Water/Ways.”
Kersting, who wrote a grant to host the exhibit, said the procedure to bring it in began over a year ago in August 2015.
“It’s been a long process,” she said.
Kersting said the exhibit is part of the Smithsonian’s Museum on Main Street program and is one of many initiatives to raise awareness about water scarcity. Six communities in Idaho are chosen to host the exhibit throughout the year, she said.
“It’s just the Smithsonian’s way of reaching out to smaller exhibits,” said Jessica Bowman, Latah County Library adult services manager and the person in charge of the #WaterWordsMoscow project.
Kersting said the Historical Society collaborated with the library to bring in a humanities perspective per the request of the grant maker, the Idaho Humanities Council.
Bowman initiated #WaterWordsMoscow to raise awareness for the upcoming exhibit, Bowman said.
“It was a project that we conceived of to draw attention to the Smithsonian exhibit,” Kersting said.
Water-related quotes from famous people can be found at 10 different locations throughout the city, she said. The majority of the quotes can be found on Main Street but there is also one each in front of the library, McConnell Mansion and City Hall. She said they are written in an environmentally-friendly water-resistant spray imported from Europe.
“They only show up when the cement is wet,” Bowman said.
She said the effects of the spray could last from two months to a year. Kersting said although the art is often referred to as “water graffiti,” the term is not entirely accurate as it is a city-approved installation.
She said they partnered with the Moscow Art Department to ensure their plan would not violate official regulations.
“This is more of a community art project than it is graffiti,” she said.
Kersting said the focus of the exhibit is on the different aspects people relate to water through the ages in regard to exploration, industry, agriculture, religion and more.
“It can be found in many Native American creation stories,” she said.
In addition to the Smithsonian’s exhibit, the Historical Society will show a companion exhibit they created specifically for the community, Kersting said. She said it will include information about local issues such as the positive effects of Potlatch River dam removal on steelhead trout.
“It just picks up on themes that the Smithsonian exhibit articulates and gives a local perspective on those themes,” Kersting said.
Nina Rydalch can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @NinaRobin7