A visitor examines the reinvented toilet on the ramp of the Discovery Center.

A Better Way to Go

Toilets and the Future of Sanitation

Now on view | Toilet tours @ 3:30 p.m., Wednesday – Saturday

If half of the world needs a toilet and the other half needs a better one, what if new innovations could solve our sanitation challenges? Imagine a toilet that can be set up anywhere with no pipes to connect and no need for water—where waste is treated at the source, safely and cleanly.

Nearly 250 years after the invention of the flush toilet, 3.5 billion people—almost half the world’s population—have no choice but to use unsafe toilets and sanitation facilities. For the population that lives above sewers, the infrastructure is aging fast, prone to overflow, and wasteful. And everywhere, our sanitation systems will be tested by climate change.  

But the world is poised to take a leap together. With innovations and improved technology, alongside investments from local governments and businesses, we can ensure safe sanitation for all.  

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation designed this exhibition to share a vision for resilient and sustainable sanitation. It features efforts the foundation has funded to address both the outcomes of inequities in sanitation and their root cause—with a goal of protecting the health and dignity of everyone, no matter where we live. 

We are closer than ever to building a world where safe sanitation services are a basic human right enjoyed by everyone, not just those with money and access to water.

Doulaye Kone
Deputy Director, Water, Sanitation & Hygiene
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Exhibition acknowledgments

This exhibition was organized by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Discovery Center, with special thanks to the Water, Sanitation & Hygiene team for their invaluable contributions of support and expertise. Thank you to the Musée de la civilization (Museum of Civilization) for their work as contributors and advisors to the exhibition.

Curator of Exhibitions

Sarah Bloom

Content Development and Management

Teresa Gionis

Exhibition Coordination and Research

Paquita Esterly

Editing and Content Support

Deborah Kimmey

Exhibition Management

Jill Randerson

Contracts and Object Loans

Jessica Lah

Accessibility Consultant

Elizabeth Ralston

Early Conception

Aaron Alcorn

Graphic and Exhibition Design

Curious Beast