Special exhibition
Just Add Water
opens Tuesday, November 5.
Visit
NHM.ORG.
Guest Curator Dr. Eyerman— 
who curated NHM’s Pacific Standard
Time,
Artistic Evolution
—says
Reynolds is an ideal fit for an exhibition
that explores the significance of
the Aqueduct. “Rob’s work has long
investigated complex episodes in
American history. He demonstrates a
rigorous intellectual framework and
astonishing technical skill together
with a wry view of art, history, and
popular culture.”
Field Investigation
Reynolds conducted extensive
original historical and archival research
to unearth the backstory of this
technological feat. He visited the
Owens Valley and the Eastern Sierra,
met with residents, photographed
notable sites, and collaborated
with L.A.-based historians and
archaeologists. This helped shape
his vision for the 10 watercolors,
as well as the 13 banners created
to represent the names of people
who made the enterprise possible.
The artist and his team
scoured the National Archives,
voter registration and census records,
and the attic of the Los Angeles
Department of Water and Power,
which is presenting the exhibition.
Reynolds assembled an annotated list
of more than 7,000 people, creating
what may be the most thorough
sample yet. The names of visionaries
like Aqueduct inventor Fred Eaton and
Chief Engineer Mulholland appear
alongside those of the ditch diggers,
ranchers, native Paiute, immigrants— 
the beneficiaries and casualties
of progress alike.
Just Add Water
recognizes the anonymous laborers
alongside key players who created
the engineering marvel.
“We are used to seeing
names of city founders inscribed on
On Tuesday, November 5 and Wednesday,
November 6, NHM is free in celebration
of the 100th anniversary of the opening of
the L.A. Aqueduct and the Museum.
Above: Image of one of the dredges digging
the L.A. Aqueduct in the Owens Valley.
Photo courtesy of LADWP.
museum walls,” said Reynolds, who
worked alongside an L.A.-based movie
title designer to create the banners,
“I hope that these might function
a bit like the credits that roll at the
end of a great movie.”
Water’s Power
That story of the people runs through
NHM’s new
Becoming Los Angeles
exhibit as well—where the tales of
wealthy cattle ranchers and oil barons
sit next to portraits of poor settlers,
each a part of L.A.’s coming-of-age
saga. The exhibition tells the story
of how the land and the people— 
nature and culture—interacted over
500 years to transform a pueblo
into a metropolis. A water theme
also permeates every gallery in the
14,000-square-foot exhibit. In the
section that brings to life the Mexican
Rancho Era, visitors can tap on a
grasshopper-shaped plaque that
triggers a dynamic video, which
illustrates how years of floods along
with drought and then locusts
decimated cattle herds.
The tale of water’s power
washes into the exhibit’s 20th-century
galleries, with photos of the fatal
Southern California floods of 1938
that swept away homes, and the
subsequent construction of cement
channels of the L.A. River, which
would act as a bulwark against
such catastrophes.
Taken together, Eyerman said,
these exhibitions invite visitors
to consider where our water comes
from and how it continues to transform
the landscape. “They invite us ,” said
Eyerman, “to look at seemingly familiar
events and places with fresh eyes.”
6
Naturalist
October/November 2013
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