Living Waters Museum, India

Living Waters Museum – Center for Heritage Management, Ahmedabad University, India

Water, the primal fluid, has shaped rich civilizations across India, inspired art and architecture, stories and folklore, rituals and practices, poems, songs, music, film and dance. The Living Waters Museum (LWM), a digital platform, was launched in January 2017, to collect and collate rich and diverse traditions of water practices ­­­in India and build a repository of visualised knowledge, which can commemorate the past, inspire the present and be a source of learning for the future. The process of developing the platform is seen as collaborative and interdisciplinary, engaging young people in project-based learning, essentially storytelling, around the many dimensions of water heritage, and its intersection with livelihoods, natural and built environments and the creative arts.

In its first year, the museum was incubated at WaterAid India, and worked with post-graduate students of photography at the National Institute of Design (NID), Gandhinagar to develop 14 visually stunning photo-essays of water, livelihoods and communities in Gujarat. Since October 2017, the museum project has been housed at the Centre for Heritage Management, Ahmedabad University, where it is expanding institutional partnerships and working with a cross-section of students from diverse disciplinary backgrounds. In February 2017, LWM organised in its first pop-up museum at the India Environment Festival at Ahmedabad where the theme was ‘I am Water’. Three small gallery spaces enabled us to showcase the work of the NID students, as well as host installations on water heritage and engage with young children through beautifully illustrated short stories on water practices and folklore.

The team is currently working on another pop-up museum on water, food and cultural practices in collaboration with Vishala, an ethnic restaurant and the Vechaar Museum of Utensils which has an amazing collection of water pots dating back to 1000 years.

Museum website: www.livingwatersmuseum.org

Videos

SERs

Where the Water Flows

An experiential education workshop designed in collaboration with KOSH collective, Pune and Living Waters Museum. This course helps participants understand the cultural heritage of water in India and explores the art of digital storytelling. The first edition of the workshop was held at the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad in January 2017 as part of their Open Electives for all second-year students. KOSH and LWM are working together on the curriculum and plan to offer the courses at other academic institutions which are interested in water and heritage.

Content developed :

Visualising water, food and cultural practices in Gujarat

The LWM team, led by an intern of exhibition design from NID, is exploring the relationship between water, food and cultural traditions in collaboration with Vishala restaurant, Ahmedabad. Given its agro-ecological context – semi-arid – the use of grains that are water-tolerant, such as millet, has seen a revival in local diets in recent years (also for health reasons, low glycaemic index). Additionally, the team is determining the water footprint (virtual water) of a typical Gujarati thali (plate) served at the ethnic restaurant, Vishala. Chaas, or buttermilk, is also a popular drink in the state given its dry climate.