A Better Way to Go

Toilets and the Future of Sanitation

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

Exhibition themes

Visitors to this exhibition will encounter seven themes to explore that cover biology, gender equity, global health, science and innovation, and much more.

Biology of going

The story of sanitation starts with YOU. The “Biology of Going” illuminates the science behind our shared biology as humans and how we all play a role in the complex sanitation cycle. 

How we go

While our biology unites us, our cultural and geographic landscapes introduce differences in our access to and experiences of going to the bathroom. “How We Go” invites you to explore these diverse ways of going and learn about how people use the bathroom worldwide.

Where it goes

Where It Goes” follows the post-flush journey, answering the tough question: What to do with all the poo? In this section, explore sewered and unsewered methods for dealing with waste and uncover the fragility and shortcomings of our existing waste-management systems. 

Gulper illustration: Illustration © WaterAid/Peter Mac

When it goes wrong

When It Goes Wrong” confronts us with the unfortunate challenges and urgent needs surrounding sanitation, particularly the dangers linked to untreated sewage and unsafe waste handling. The consequences of unsafe sanitation are truly deadly—claiming more than 800,000 lives each year, with the majority of these deaths being preventable.

No place to go

Uncover another of sanitation’s pressing needs in “No Place to Go,” which addresses the widespread absence of toilets in some regions of the world. For women and girls, the scarcity of private toilets not only increases the risk of attacks but also fuels stigma around menstruation, often leading to missed school and educational opportunities.

Photo: © Susanne Walstrom

Better ways to go

Experience a renewed sense of hope in “Better Ways to Go” as we showcase ongoing progress. Featuring a range of technical innovations, including three different reinvented toilets, this section also unveils stories of crucial government and private sector partnerships, impactful awareness campaigns, and visionary sanitation entrepreneurs around the world who are moving the needle toward sanitation for all.

Sanitation futures

Finally, imagine a world where humanity has met the enormous challenge of sanitation for all in “Sanitation Futures,” a garden-like space filled with living ‘poopariums’ and an interactive art installation, Village Green: Loopscapes, 2024 created by artist Vaughn Bell. This immersive, sensory experience invites you to explore an intimate, symbiotic relationship with plants and the atmosphere, integrating biosolid compost from local sewage facilities and native plants.