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The Nature of Water: Our Most Precious Resource

The Nature of Water is an exhibition that serves a dual purpose: it presents a selection of superb California landscape paintings, and it makes the museum visitor aware of one of California’s historically scarce and precious resources, water.

With this exhibition, we feature art that documents the perpetual natural cycle of water in our atmosphere. Water exists in nature in three physical states, liquid (water), solid (ice) and gas (water vapor). The Water Cycle describes how a fixed quantity of water has remained the same for hundreds of millions of years. The amount of water on Earth is constantly refreshed by being cycled, through the ocean, sky and land, over and over again. Without this cycle, whatever water exists would be used up and gone forever and there would be no life on Earth.

By looking at how water moves through its cycle in the atmosphere, by the physical processes of evaporation, condensation, precipitation, infiltration, runoff, and subsurface flow, one sees how water goes through its three different phases: liquid, solid, and gas.

The evaporative phase of the cycle purifies water which then replenishes the land with freshwater. The flow of liquid water and ice transports minerals across the globe. It is also involved in reshaping the geological features of the Earth, through processes including erosion and sedimentation. The water cycle is also essential for the maintenance of all life and ecosystems on the planet.

The oceans are the most important part of the Water Cycle, as they store more than 97% of the water found on Earth.

Suggested Books

To see The Irvine Museum Collection’s entire collection of high-quality books, cards and prints, please visit the bookstore.