Starting Monday, July 25th, the Wisconsin Historical Society’s new traveling exhibit, Great Lakes Small Streams: How Water Shapes Wisconsin, will be on display in the Global Water Center’s Meeusen Confluence Gallery. The exhibit explores our state’s long relationship with water and the impact we have had on our vast waterways.

“The exhibit encourages guests to consider the many ways water has shaped our state, both geographically and as a driver for settlement and industry,” said Kristen Leffelman, field services representative for the Wisconsin Historical Society and lead curator of the exhibit. “From there, it looks at how we have, in turn, shaped our waterways, highlighting some of the sustainability issues that challenge us today. Our water is such a rich resource and shaped our culture in so many ways. We want to share how it played and continues to play such an important part in our lives and livelihood.”

Comprised of sixteen panels, Great Lakes Small Streams features an interactive kiosk that allows visitors to track the movement of glaciers, follow changes made to the Milwaukee River over time, or seek out easy solutions to save water in their own homes. It will stimulate visitors to think about and discuss how people interact with the environment, with emphasis on how our relationship with water shaped Wisconsin’s past and will continue to shape its future.

Exhibit development began at the Wisconsin Historical Society’s Global Water Center office last summer, when Leffelman began meeting with local stakeholders and partners. Leffelman consulted with representatives from the Urban Ecology Center and Schlitz Audubon Nature Center to develop the exhibit’s ecological content and met with a panel of teachers for their input on classroom use. Leffelman also met with the Water Council and Water Council members, including the UWM School of Freshwater Sciences and Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District, to hear their water stories. The exhibit launched at the Urban Ecology Center’s Riverside Park location in March and was celebrated at an Earth Day event featuring John Gurda at the Mequon Nature Preserve.

The Wisconsin Historical Society provides Great Lakes Small Streams for free to schools, nature centers, public libraries, and historical societies in communities all around the state. On August 8th it will continue its journey, traveling to the Greenfield Public Library.

Great Lakes Small Streams was produced with the generous support of the Herzfeld Foundation, Wisconsin Humanities Council, and Ralph Evinrude Foundation. It is part of DIVE IN, an initiative exploring Wisconsin’s water history through programs, events, and exhibits from the Wisconsin Historical Society. For more information on the exhibit, contact Kristen Leffelman at 414-988-8655 for


Great Lakes Small Streams on exhibit at the Schlitz Audubon Nature Center
This post was tagged under: Global Water Center, Great Lakes, Small Streams Exhibit, Wisconsin Historical Society, WISWATER