Blue Gold

Blue Gold: The Power & Privilege of Water

June 2-November 7, 2022

Filoli StrokeLine

While the Bay Area was originally financed by gold, California has an even more valuable resource: water, California’s blue gold.

This new property-wide exhibition explores how water systems shaped the Bay Area and how controlling water resources was a path to power and wealth for Filoli's families. Today, water is more precious than ever in drought-stricken California, and clean water is a privilege some are still denied. Stories in the House and Garden connect California's water history with the hope for a sustainable future.

Dive into these activities throughout the property:

From Blue Gold exhibit.

Take a seat, and take a side!
Pick up a recreated 1908 newspaper in the Reception Room to learn more about each character in California’s water rate debate.


Succulents in the Sunken
Our seasonal garden display highlights a palette of plants that are more appropriate for the dry Bay Area climate, including succulents and salvias.

Square Bluegold

How do you draw water?
Step up to an easel in the Ballroom and paint water as you see it.

Square Learn

Irrigation Information
In the Production Garden, Filoli offers easy tips for making the most of your home irrigation system.


Go for a water walk.
Start your Estate Trail hike at Fault Creek Bridge, where you can hear a recording of the rushing creek during wetter times.

Square Ship
Follow the Water
Explore the water-inspired pieces in Filoli's collection by doing a scavenger hunt through the House. Get started on
22 0121 0052 Mike James

How is Filoli Addressing the Drought?

The search for water and development of water infrastructure led to the tapping of natural springs, the building of a reservoir, development of wells, and finally purchasing water from the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission. Learn about Filoli's ongoing efforts for water conservation in a blog from Chief Operations Officer Alex Fernandez.

This project is supported by the Interpretation and Education Fund of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, an endowed fund made possible by a challenge grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.