Water bar HAS A NEW home in minneapolis!

California, Arkansas, North Carolina, Illinois and dozens of pop-ups around the Twin Cities and greater Minnesota—after almost two years as a mobile project, we're happy to invite you to Water Bar & Public Studio, a new social space and sustainability incubator in Northeast Minneapolis. Visit us at 2516 Central Avenue NE.

Special Note: The City of Minneapolis will be in residence at Water Bar & Public Studio until the national election on November 8th! Minneapolis residents can VOTE EARLY at Water Bar and 3 other locations starting September 23rd. For more info visit the City of Minneapolis voter information site.

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 pop-up, a 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 places across the United States - 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 community 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 our culture. 


WATER BAR IS AN art & sustainability incubator

More than just a pop-up educational experience, Water Bar is an itinerant social space for conversation and connection around the life-sustaining, precarious, communal activity of drinking tap water and living within a local ecology. 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. Water Bar water tenders 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 systems thinkers, Makers & doers

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 the systems upon which our lives depend, from researchers to policy makers to engaged public artists.

Volunteers and interns tend bar and work together through partnerships with non-profit organizations and public agencies. These partners share background information and resources on our water system, water issues, and potential 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.

Water Bar is a public art project rooted in place and purpose

As water is gathered from surrounding communities to be served at Water Bar - from the ordinary taps of local businesses and municipal water treatment facilities - we engage directly with the complexities surrounding our waters 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 media projects. They also accumulate amongst a loose network of individual artists and collaborating 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 and an amazing staff of paid student interns. 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 for a full listing. 

Location & Hours


Water Bar & Public Studio

2516 Central Avenue NE

Minneapolis, MN 55418

(612) 236-4324



The City of Minneapolis will be in residence at Water Bar & Public Studio until the National Election! Minneapolis residents can VOTE EARLY at Water Bar and 3 other locations starting September 23rd. For more info visit the City of Minneapolis voter information site.

We're currently fundraising for necessary improvements to our new space that will allow us to get the right City of Minneapolis permits. We plan on posting regular open hours as soon as we're able!

In the meantime, we will be open during scheduled public events (check out our calendar) and by appointment. Use this contact form to reach us!


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.