Yaku Parque Museo del Agua, Quito, Ecuador

Yaku Parque Museo del Agua, Quito, Ecuador

Yaku is an interactive museum dedicated to one topic: “Water”. Water in its most complex and diverse approaches as it is present in unimaginable scenarios and forms; from science to art, passing through environmental, social, spiritual, historical topics within other subjects. Yaku believes that the only way to protect water in a conscious way is having a strong affective attachment with it.

Through this holistic approach, the Museum of Water, located in Quito, works for the pursuit and design of a variety of educational, playful and sensible experiences. By the application of no formal education, it encourages reflection and the recognition of the value of water. The museum aspires to arise citizens who are aware of the importance of water, people who are conscious that life in our planet depends on it and that their everyday activities can affect on positive or negative ways.

Mission: Be a place that encourages more questions than answers; by reflection, active participation and recreation, assuming that life depends on water.
Vision: On 2030, Yaku Museum of Water will be an example of a site where meeting and debate on water happens. A place opened for proposals and community participation with an impact on the continent and important international strategic alliances. Additionally, it will be a self-sustaining museum.

The museum works around two main ideas: “water and nature”, and “water and society”; so all the activities and exhibits developed are part of one of these strategic lines. Yaku counts with 8 permanent and 2 temporary exhibits, one travelling exhibit and 4 travelling activities. The agenda of the museum includes complementary activities which change monthly, and a continue work with our closest community, neighbors and collectives related to water.

Here a description of its permanent exhibits:

Introductory Room

It is the welcome place, where visitors will learn about the intention of the museum and the reason for its existence and how exhibits are organized within its strategic lines. In addition, it presents the history of the neighborhood and the museum, and the past, present and future work of Quito´s Public Water Supplier (EPMAPS – Empresa Pública Metropolitana de Agua Potable y Saneamiento).

Mediagua (The Shack)

It is an ecological house where you can share ideas, knowledge, reflections, discussions and values ​​about how we understand nature and how we relate to it, with the aim of finding more sustainable societies. Around this exhibit, it is possible to find several replicable alternatives to apply in our homes in order to generate sustainable cities.

Pumamaki (Pumamaqui: an ecuadorian native plant)

It is an ecological restoration on the eastern side, a slope, of the museum wich invites visitors to enjoy and reflect on the beauty of moors and montane forests, as well as the importance of them for providing clean and abundant water for the city. It is a space to learn more about the fauna and flora of Andean ecosystems and, especially, the natural environment of Quito.

Aguamundi

Exhibit that invites to explore and discover the marine biodiversity of Ecuador and the world. Through an immersive space developed with audiovisual, technological and interactive media, visitors will interact with ten marine species, feeling part of the depth of the oceans. The objective of this exhibition is to open spaces where people can learn about marine fauna, the dangers to which they are exposed and the importance of education and research for conservation.

Biota Máxima (Supreme biodiversity)

Photo exhibit that aims for the motivation of citizens to know and preserve Ecuadorian nature and its incredible biodiversity by understanding the influence of climatic floors on the megadiversity of plants and animals found in Ecuador and how these have adapted to its surroundings. To finally discuss the importance of education and research for the conservation of fauna and flora and the consequences of not doing so, including economic and spiritual aspects.

Samay, sentir de las aguas (Samay, the waters feelings)

A space to reflect and discover the profound relationship of human beings with water, from the sacred or the profane; a proposal to meet with our origins and think the importance of the vital liquid for each one who inhabits the planet.

Riesgollacta (Land of risks. Riesgo=risk, llacta=land in quechua)

A boardgame like space that invites young and adults to discover and learn what to do in the case of facing natural disasters. How to act in case of an earthquake, eruption, or landslide? Where are the safe places? These are just some of the questions that, in a playful way, are addressed in this exhibit.

Achachay (Quechua word for the expression “Feeling cold!”)

Place designed for our youngest visitors. It is a didactic and playful experience which represents the water cycle from nature to cities. A place where kids will explore, awake their senses and question about the way water takes.

With a mean of 150.000 visitors a year, Yaku is one of the most visited museums in the city, which counts with more than 120 museums and cultural centers. Most of our visitors are Ecuadorians, being 50% kids. In workdays, visitors come in scholar groups and weekend visits consist mostly on families.

Yaku opened its doors on 2005 and is administrated by Fundación Museos de la Ciudad, which is a private foundation that manages 5 museums. It is financed mainly by Quito’s Municipality and Quito´s Public Water Supplier (EPMAPS – Empresa Pública Metropolitana de Agua Potable y Saneamiento).

Museum website: www.yakumuseoagua.gob.ec

Interviews

SERs

Workshops related with biodiversity in Alliance with PUCE

As part of the development of the permanent exhibit “Biota Máxima” (Supreme Biodiversity), an strategic alliance was signed with the School of Biological Sciences of the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador – PUCE. This alliance included some educational cicles and complimentary activities organized by students and the school as part of their of relation with the community. So the activities were focused on scientific divulgation on topics related to the exhibit and included educational resources and three-month agendas that were developed twice on 2017.

The generated activities for the present topics:

  • Mammals
  • Anphibians
  • Macroinvertebrates
  • Insects
  • Flora
  • Marine mammals
  • Bats
  • Global Warming
  • Mushroom biodiversity
  • Ocean pollution
  • Invasive species
  • Paramoes

With the purpose of getting a critical thinking on topics related to biodiversity by the reflection and analysis of specific topics, 99 workshops were developed on 2017 sharing these ideas to 18.580 visitors. These activities worked on Fridays and weekends on two cycles of three months.

Moreover, it is a great example of working with the academy environment and enhancing each institution.

Animated short films – Histories about water

Historically Yaku has used multimedia as educational resource, mainly focused on the development of cine forums. For 3 years, we had an agenda called “Movies for water”, within it we projected different movies, short films and documentaries related to water and for each one different activities were also developed. However, every year was getting harder as you need permissions to project and there are not so many resources on this topic. Therefore, we decided the next step would be to produce our own short films, which will be a useful tool for this type of activities.

With this idea on 2017, we started with phase number one, with participative activities 10 scripts were produced by different communities related to water. The communities chosen had different points of view about water, for example, some talked about urban and rural problems about water access, others related to gender or transgenerational points of views as the differ from young to old people, and others from their willing as being part of ecological clubs.

For 2018, we are planning to develop the second phase with the production of two short animated films. We have designated budget for one, but for the second, we are in process of signing strategic alliances with national and international parts, from Bolivia to France, who are interested on participatory, communitarian and water related topics on animation production.

These project has been expanding very fast as there is the interest of talking about water including communities and expects to include a permanent place in the museum for storytelling and the creations of characters and a model to be replied all around the world. Therefore, the number of short films produced are much more than ten.

Study of visitors profile and perceptions

On 2017 we executed our first study about the museum visitors, it was focused on their profile, the intention of the visit, and general perceptions about their experience at the museum and their expectations. With an accuracy of 95%, 322 interviews were executed, and the museum acquired very useful information about its visitors. We also, had support of students of Central University in the interview process, which was focused on visitors that came in family/friends groups.

Some of the most interesting information we got is:

  • Most of independent groups coming to the museum are families. 51,6%
  • The academic degree, in process or finished, of most groups in undergraduate. 52,7%
  • They learn about the museum information and agenda from web, social media, and TV. Web 22%, Facebook-twitter 14,6%, TV 15,2%, and a bif 17,7% from friends and family
  • 48,1% of our public are visiting the museum for the first time and 35,7% has been twice, included the day of the interview.
  • They go to the museum because of recommendation received from friends, because they want to learn more about the museum’s topic, curiosity, and tourism.
  • Visitors have a better remembrance of exhibits visited at the beginning of their visit.
  • They plan a visit of 1 to 2 hours, so that is the time we have to give a clear message.
  • They value the experience had in museum because they learnt new things 36,3% and were motivated to learn about environment 22,7, and in third place they were able to play.
  • The main messages they are keeping after the visit are: water is life and our actions have direct influence on water and environment.
  • And finally, the new thing they expect to find in the museum are more opportunities to play, more living animals, new exhibits, and more interaction.

SDG 14 Life below water and SDG 15: Life on land

“Aguamundi”, “Biota Máxima” and “Molecule” are the projects related to life and water. At these places, we invite to think on water as the main resource for life, as ecosystem, as essence of the body, as origin of life. Moreover, how it is part of biodiversity and how its contamination affects entire environments and the life within it.

With these projects, we want to amaze visitors with all forms of life from Ecuador’s biodiversity to the oceans all around the world and understand the symbiosis between living beings and environment. Nevertheless, we do not want to stay there, so later visitors will see how all these forms of life are in danger mainly because of humans, contamination and climate change.

Consequently, at this time, we connect with visitors and their willing to apply in daily life, plus supporting research and nature conservancy work.

SDG 11: Sustainable cities and communities; 12: Responsible consumption and production; and 13: Climate action

Connected to the SDGs 11, 12 and 13, Yaku have some exhibits that talk about how society relates to water, and what citizens can do to keep it safe. These are “Mediagua”, “Pumamaki”, “Ruta Quebradas”, “Achachay” and “Planet Water”. At these exhibits, visitors can look and learn how people can do great things to protect environment and water, from daily life to the relation of it with science and environment.

First in our homes, applying the 3 Rs (reuse, recycle, reduce), using sustainable energies and housing and growing our own food. Then, recovering natural places so water can flow and native animals and plants will come back to their environment. In addition, with “Achachay” we represent the same topics, but focused con children aged 2 to 5, so with their understanding, they will start to think and talk about the importance of water and their role on its life.

Finally, looking deeper on the city, “Ruta Quebradas” shows how people relates to water from rediscovering the natural gorges found at Quito. It is an invitation to see how the natural paths of water has been transformed as the city grows. Now they have other functions beyond water as public places, parks, roads, unsafe places, places to meet, green areas, historical spot, etc.

SDG 6: Clean Water and Sanitation

Related to the “Introductory Room” of the museum, the travelling exhibit “Yaku Viajero” and the educational resource “Agua ¡Zás!”, the main purpose of them is to reflect about the work needed to access to clean water at the city and how it has evolved in time. It introduces the differences from civilizations who lived earlier in our land, later, on Spanish colony times, to nowadays. How people settled next to water sources and needed to carry water on pots and vessels, in contrast to present, were is easy to get water from the faucet but it comes from far away. In Quito, for example, part of the water come from other provinces.

These projects invite people to give value to the importance of clean water. Questions what happens if not, and recognizes that water is a right as citizens, but that it also implies some responsibilities within it.

In order to support this topic we have a strategic alliance with Quito´s Public Water Supplier (EPMAPS – Empresa Pública Metropolitana de Agua Potable y Saneamiento), and along the year we organize conferences, forums and educational activities that help to talk about actual problems related to water.

Additionally, these projects invite people to think about what happens with used water also, as our responsibility does not end on reducing the consumption but also the type of sewage water that follows the city on its path to the ocean.

Moreover, in order to reflect about this topic, some of the educational mediators who interact with visitors perform in specific activities as people related to water through history as the laundry woman, the judge of water, plant technician, between others.