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MCNY: What Counts?

2020 Museum of the City of New York | Museums

Timed to coincide with the 2020 U.S. Census, the Museum of the City of New York's 2020 exhibition Who We Are: Visualizing NYC by the Numbers surveyed creative and critical takes on how the U.S. government has traditionally categorized people. Curators commissioned Accurat and Pentagram to contribute an installation in response to the theme.

Challenge

Create an enriching and impactful experience for museum–goers, based on the U.S. Census.

Solution

A multiformat installation espousing Data Humanism as a lens through which to re–evaluate a democratic system.

Services

UX, UI, and data visualization design; Data science; Front, back–end development

Deliverables

Data art installation; Web app; Printed iconography

Process

We partnered with design firm Pentagram to create a multifaceted experience, inspired by the exhibition's theme and powered by data contributed by museum–goers.

In reimaging the Census, we brainstormed questions that would yield responses richer than straightforward demographic data, such as: “How do you define home?” and “Compared to your actual age, do you feel young or old?” We solicited information from iPads stationed within the activation. Answers generated unique designs or Data Portraits based on a unique lexicon of shapes, colors, and symbols, hand–drawn by Accurat co–founder Giorgia Lupi.

Outcome

The iPad survey–generated Data Portraits populated a projected wall display for the duration of the exhibition. Visual cues and explanatory text helped contextualize symbology so that visitors could see themselves represented in the display and explore what they had in common with fellow survey–takers. Data Portraits were additionally printed on pins for guests to wear and take home as keepsakes.

As part of the exhibition's event programming, Lupi joined New York Times New York Times data editor Amanda Cox in a sold out discussion, where they covered What Counts and other relevant Accurat projects.

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