In The Leonardo's newest exhibit, "Water: Nature's Driving Force," Australian photographer Paul Blackmore documents the universal role of water in ecology, landscape, economics, recreation and religion and spirituality.

As desert dwellers, Utahns will feel a natural affinity for Blackmore's subject and the people he presents, ranging from religious pilgrims in India to public bathers in Japan. To bring the exhibit home, Blackmore took a whirlwind trip through Utah to add a series of shots of local water sites, including Glen Canyon Dam and a mineral-encrusted bathtub at a remote hot spring in Central Utah. (The photo above is of swimmers at our major water feature, the Great Salt Lake.)

Explains Blackmore, "I wanted people to look at the local pictures and say, 'This is my life!' and understand their connection with water is the same as people everywhere."

In the Leo's mission of presenting art, science and technology as a seamless whole, the exhibit includes instructional installations that give museum visitors an idea of the challenge of providing clean water to meet the world's ever-growing need.

In a nook amid the photos, Alexander Johnstone, The Leo's exhibits and programs manager, has filled 293 gallon bottles with water to illustrate how much water the average Utah resident uses daily to drink, cook, wash their cars, sprinkle their lawns and chase their whiskey.

If that sounds like a lot, it is. Utah is the second driest state, but has one of the highest water usages. A person in a developing nation uses five to eight gallons a day.

"We didn't want to depress people," says Johnston, "but we wanted them to be aware."

The Leonardo, 209 E. 500 South, SLC

The exhibit will be on display through January, 2013.