What is the Water Drop?

Nele Ruckelshausen & Sara Løve Daðadóttir
Can classic children’s literature inspire a new way of thinking about contemporary social challenges like environmentalism, gender equality and diversity? That’s the question that created The Water Drop – a new partnership between Nordic cultural institutions connecting classic children’s literature and the UN Sustainable Development Goals in a series of events, workshops, exhibitions and publications.

A drop of water in a big pond might not seem like much, but the ripples it creates can be felt far beyond the initial impact. The Water Drop, which takes its name from the eponymous Hans Christian Andersen fairytale, wants to empower children (and adults!) to create their own ripples – and start to understand themselves as active participants in social and cultural life. 

The Young Curators initiative invites children aged 9 to 12 from Iceland, Denmark, Finland and Estonia to co-curate a public series of events and exhibitions over the next three years. By combining arts, science and the environment in a new, participatory manner, The Water Drop wants to empower children to think and act on the big questions of our time. In doing so, we hope to set new standards of working with children as cultural co-creators.

The Water Drop was conceived by The Cultural Houses of Kópavogur, Iceland, the Hans Christian Andersen Museum in Denmark, the Moomin Museum in Finland and Ilon’s Wonderland in Estonia. The project is realized over the next three years with an international array of collaborators including institutions, museums, libraries, schools and independent cultural practitioners. 

The program kicks off at The Children’s Cultural Festival on April 20th, 2021, in The Cultural Houses in Kópavogur, Iceland. On World Environment Day on June 5th, 2021, the first exhibition opens at the Gerðarsafn Art Museum in Kópavogur. The exhibition brings together illustrations from Tove Jansson’s Moomins, Ilon Wikland’s works for Astrid Lindgren, and characters from Hans Christian Andersen. It’s co-curated by the Young Curators under guidance from curator Chus Martínez.

The project is made possible by the generous support of The Icelandic Children's Cultural Fund, Kópavogur Art & Cultural Fund, Nordplus, Nordic Culture Fund and Erasmus Plus.