Collections Data Visualization 101

Workshop - register now

Wednesday, April 01, 2020: 9:00am - 12:00pm -

Liz Neely, Georgia O'Keeffe Museum, USA, Chad Weinard, Williams College Museum of Art, USA

If you’ve heard about open access museum data and wondered how to explore further, this is the workshop for you! This hands-on workshop focuses on creating data visualizations from collections information using readily available and easy-to-use tools. Data visualization is the presentation of information in a pictorial or graphical format, which enables a person to see that information in aggregate often revealing trends or gaps in the data that are not visible through other methods. As a potentially powerful tool for research, assessment, and creative inquiry, data visualization offers new ways of thinking about the information we produce in museums. Visualization and design help guide users through a process of seeing the collections in a new way therefore prompting new questions. Creative use is one of the great opportunities for museum and cultural heritage data sets.  What happens when we think about collection data as a creative medium rather than solely as a reference resource?

This workshop, designed for beginners, kicks off with examples of data visualizations from within and outside of the cultural heritage field demonstrating the wide range of uses and possibilities. Then it dives hands-on into working with collection data using easy-to-use tools to create and modify data visualizations. Workshop leads provide an annotated list of recommended data visualization tools for getting started. To ensure that the workshop provides adequate hands-on time, the workshop will focus more in depth on using two or three of these tools in creating different types of visualizations. The workshop wraps up by sharing thoughts for how these tools could be useful in practice while also having a dialogue about the pitfalls of data sources and their resulting data visualizations.

No experience necessary, just come with an open mind ready to dig into some visualizations! 

Glinka, K., Pietsch, C., and Dörk, M. (2014-2017). “VIKUS Viewer: Explore Cultural Collections along Time, Texture and Themes.” VIKUS Viewer: Explore Cultural Collections along Time, Texture and Themes. Available at:

Lane, Kin. “Data Visualization And Storytelling Around Museum Collections Using APIs.” API Evangelist Blog. Published June 1, 2017. Visited September 29, 2018.

Luther, Anne. ‘Activating Museums’ Data for Research, Scholarship, and Public Engagement’ - a new research project at the Center for Data Arts, Data Matters, The New School (2018), Visited September 30, 2018.

Neely, Liz, Luther, Anne and Weinard, Chad. "Cultural Collections as Data: Aiming for Digital Data Literacy and Tool Development." MW19: MW 2019. Published February 1, 2019. Consulted September 26, 2019.

Weinard, C. (2018). “Data as Medium” In M. Walter and M. Ferrucci (eds.). Thoughtforms. New York: Micah Walter Studio. Available at: