Water bar is getting a home in minneapolis!

Arkansas, North Carolina, Illinois, and countless pop-ups around the Twin Cities metro area and greater Minnesota—after almost two years as a mobile project, we're happy to invite you to Water Bar & Public Studio, a new art and sustainability incubator in Northeast Minneapolis. 

Our goal is to create a welcoming and generative social space around the life-sustaining, precarious, communal activity of drinking water. More than a taproom for tap water, Water Bar & Public Studio is an art and sustainability incubator for Northeast Minneapolis and the Mississippi River watershed. Read on for upcoming events, news, and other community connections.

Water Bar is a collaborative public art project. It is, most simply, a bar that serves local tap waters.

Water Bar began in 2014 as a public art project, a pop-up bar that serves local tap waters and is staffed by water researchers, sustainability educators, activists, artists and other community residents. 

Over the past two years Water Bar has served local tap waters to over 30,000 people in Minnesota, Arkansas, Illinois and North Carolina - sparking conversations about the importance of local water to lives and communities, and helping to equip people to engage with complex and urgent issues stemming form our collective attitudes and approaches to environment - issues like water pollution and scarcity, land use and urban development, climate change and environmental injustice. 

We've also directly engaged over 60 volunteers and interns as Water Bar water tenders. These everyday experts help care for and communicate about water and the ways it shapes and is shaped by human culture. 

WATER BAR IS AN art & sustainability incubator

More than just a pop-up educational experience, Water Bar is an itinerant open space for conversation and connection around the life-sustaining, precarious, communal activity of drinking tap water. We invite Water Bar visitors to engage with one another, as well as with Water Bar water tenders, who share their knowledge of water and water issues. Importantly, these students and professionals also listen to visitors about the ways water matters to their lives and communities, bringing those stories and connections back into their water work. This conversation and connection naturally leads to new ideas and possibilities, and through the public studio we work to help build the relationships and understanding necessary for effective collaboration across disciplines and communities. 

Water bar is an experiential learning lab FOR OUR PUBLIC WATER SYSTEMS

Water Bar is a creative expression of a whole system and a conduit for the lived experiences of people within that system.

Water Bar also functions as an experiential learning laboratory for emerging environmental leaders of all ages and backgrounds to get to know their public water system. 

Volunteers and interns are engaged as Water Bar water tenders through partnerships with non-profit organizations and public agencies. These partners share background information and resources on our water system, water issues, and solutions to water problems. As Water Bar water tenders, volunteers learn about and serve water, setting the tone for the project by asking questions and introducing personal stories and experiences. They also facilitate exchange with visitors, and in the process, share what they know while gaining valuable public engagement experience.

As water is gathered from surrounding communities to be served at Water Bar - from the ordinary taps of local residents, businesses and municipal water treatment facilities - we engage directly with the complexities surrounding our water systems and the places they sustain. These variables become material from which Water Bar is drawn, from the condition of available source waters, to purification technologies, to the individuals who maintain water treatment facilities, public policies, economics, aesthetics and ecology.

Over time, the results of the conversations and connections made at Water Bar spin-off into new or existing art, design, and education projects. They also accumulate amongst a loose network of individuals and organizations. We gather written reflections from volunteers and visitors about their experience, as well as photos shared on social media, commentary on current events, and other documentation, and we use this material to produce culturally and geographically appropriate art and design projects that connect the conversations at the bar to a wider audience, including policy makers, public educators and water resource scientists.

Project History

Water Bar was developed in 2014 as a public art pop-up by artists Shanai Matteson and Colin Kloecker of Works Progress Studio, in conversation and collaboration with a community of practice that includes scientific researchers, environmental advocates, arts organizers, public employees, educators, artists, and other community residents.

Our first public Water Bar was part of Twin Cities Public Television's TV Takeover program (see a video here) curated by Works Progress Studio in June of 2014.  In fall-winter of 2014, Water Bar was featured in the national exhibition State of the Art: Discovering American Art Now at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas, in collaboration with the Illinois River Watershed Partnership. In 2015, a new Water Bar was developed in Greensboro, North Carolina as part of the South Elm Projects initiative at Elsewhere Living Museum, in collaboration with Greensboro Water Resources and Guilford College's Cape Fear River Basin Project.

Short term Water Bar pop-up projects have been part of a number of private and public events in and beyond Minnesota, including events with schools, non-profit organizations, city and state government, and neighborhood groups. Click the calendar tab above for a full listing. 

Location & Hours


Water Bar & Public Studio

2516 Central Avenue NE

Minneapolis, MN 55418


We've signed the lease and have the keys in hand. We're currently applying for the necessary permits and building out the space. We plan on posting regular open hours as soon as we're able.

Water Bar & Public Studio will be open to the public for the first time during Art-A-Whirl, which is taking place from May 20-22, 2016! See Art-A-Whirl hours here.

We're also starting a series of Studio-In-Progress (SIP) Programs in May. These are sneak peak events for SIP Fund Supporters to come and sample the kinds of programs we plan to offer. Donate any amount to the SIP Fund to gain access to these special events!


Upcoming Events at Water Bar & Public Studio

Upcoming Water Bar Pop-up Events


A Collaborative Public Art Project

Water Bar & Public Studio is a collaborative public art project led by Colin Kloecker and Shanai Matteson (Works Progress Studio), in partnership with the Holland Neighborhood Improvement Association (HNIA). Water Bar projects and programs are developed in collaboration with a diverse network of artists, scientists, public employees, neighborhood residents, community organizers, nonprofit organizations and public agencies.