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POOL: A Social History of
Segregation will open on
World Water Day, March 22, 2023!

Visit soon at the Fairmount Water Works


by Victoria Prizzia, Pool Creator

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POOL weaves together history, site-specific artwork, storytelling, scholarship and place-based learning.

The exhibit installations build on one another to illuminate a history of segregated swimming in America, and its connection to present-day drowning issues affecting Black communities.


SPLASH / CONCESSIONS is a series of musical and culinary arts performed in the lanes of the former Kelly Pool and outside the Fairmount Water Works (weather permitting). Bringing together performers and chefs to explore ideas within POOL offers powerful opportunities for creative exchanges and engagement for both artists and audiences alike. These upcoming events are designed to expand the experience, prolong the discussion and re-ignite interest in this extraordinary exhibition.

“A diverse palette of music performed by Philly-based artists/ensembles debuting new musical works that sonically probe the cultural, historical, social and even spiritual concepts at the heart of this extraordinary exhibition.”

Homer Jackson, SPLASH curator, Interdisciplinary artist, Founder/director of the Philadelphia Jazz Project

“CONCESSIONS refers both to the concession stand, where one buys food at a pool and to the concessions that need to be made in order to make public pools more socially equal places…I hope that this food will help everyone recall their best memory of the water, and to imagine a more ideal, future shared recreational experience.”

Valerie Erwin, CONCESSIONS curator, Chef and social justice activist, founder of Geechee Girl Rice Café, former manager of EAT Café, and manager of Farm to Families.

Featured Voices

Through an inspiring collective of artists, swimming champions, aquatic activists, researchers and scholars, POOL invites visitors to challenge personal assumptions about the act of swimming together.

Drowning is the 5th leading cause of unintentional injury death for people of all ages in the United States, and the 2nd leading cause of injury death for children ages 1 to 14 years.

Explore the Exhibition

An immersive blend of interactive media, site-specific artworks, arresting graphics, and powerful stories bring the history of segregated swimming and its reverberations to life in POOL.

A History of Segregation: Graphic Timeline and Slideshow

An immersive graphic timeline takes the viewer on a journey from the 1800s to today.

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POOL Mural

Calo Rosa was born in San Salvador from a family of artists working in diverse media including Brazilian percussion, graphic design, oil painting, and cake-making.

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In Pennsylvania, Black children have a 50% higher rate of accidental drowning than white children - 1.2 deaths per 100,000 population for Blacks vs. 0.8 deaths per 100,000 for whites. This disparity has remained unchanged for more than 20 years.

"This medal is not just for me. It's for some of the African Americans that came before me and have been inspirations and mentors to me. I hope that I can be an inspiration for others."

Simone Manuel became the first black woman to win an individual gold medal in swimming


One element of POOL is a thoughtfully curated, professionally printed publication that captures the voices and work of a diverse assembly of Black swimming champions, aquatic activists, researchers and scholars. Explore and download their stories here.

Simone Manuel: A Letter to My Younger Self

Hey mom, where are all the people who look like me? I was 12 years old. And for the first time in my young life, I had begun to realize I was different.

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White boys are 3.5 times more likely to drown than white girls, while Black boys are 4.5 times more likely to drown than Black girls.

Source for stats: National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (NCIPC)/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) WISQARS Leading Cause of Death Statistics Database, 1999-2019 & CDC Prevention Water Safety Facts