The blue stream ripples through a pulsating streetscape of breathing mussels, a soaring cranefly, a complacent catfish, and giant diatoms invisible to the naked eye. It meanders past the Academy of Natural Sciences on its way to the Fairmount Waterworks.
Is this the dream of an Academy scientist? Maybe. But in this case, it’s the reality of “Watershed Daydreams,” a vibrant new mural installed this week on the Academy’s 19th Street brick façade.
Philadelphia artist Miriam Singer designed the visionary scene as part of the Global Philadelphia Association’s campaign to raise awareness of the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations. Sponsored by the Academy, the public artwork illustrates clean water and sanitation, the sixth in a series of 17 goals, each to be illustrated by a mural in Philadelphia.
“When we first started this project of pairing a work of art with each one of the United Nations Sustainable Development goals, water was a subject matter that stood out,” said Zabeth Teelucksingh, GPA president. “The clean water and sanitation goal strives to ensure the availability and a sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.”
Speaking at the dedication celebration on Nov. 17, Academy President and CEO Scott Cooper noted that the goal underpins the pioneering work of the Academy’s Patrick Center for Environmental Research and celebrates the institution’s Water Year, the 2022 effort to draw attention to our fragile aquatic systems.
“Water scarcity and access to clean drinking water are life-and-death issues for countries all over the world,” Cooper said. “Climate change and other factors are bringing those conditions closer to home no matter where you live, be it America’s West or Philadelphia’s heart.”
Singer drew some of her inspiration from the Academy’s collection of 19 million specimens and also from the holdings of the Library Archives. Take a close look and see how many objects and Philly landmarks you can identify. Let us know in the comment section below!