What’s a Data Murals?

I want to flesh out what we have in mind for this Data Mural a bit.  We just ran our first tiny pilot, collaborating with Doctors for Global Health to create a portable mural (read more in my blog post in the Civic Media site).  I want to write here a bit more here about the larger Data Mural project we’ve just started.

Our goal is to work with community members to pilot the collaborative creation of public art pieces that represent and explore health data about their communities.

Vibrant data about community health too often sits on computers and in the hands of academics.  This project will put data in the hands of the people who live the information.  We want to work with people to create pieces of art that generate ongoing public conversation and catalyze action to improve health.

Murals are used to inspire political change all over the world and data visualizations are created regularly by academics and news agencies to share large sets of information with the public in digestible ways.  Our project seeks to harness the history and power of public murals and experiential learning to engage community members directly in public data presentation for the first time.

The process we envision involves:

  • a facilitated set of conversations that leads a small group through the exploration of existing data to identify stories that the data tell
  • narrowing the list of possible stories to choose one that the group feels should be told publicly
  • exercises to generate visual images that can help tell the story
  • collaborative creation of a single visual image that will become a mural
  • a series of group painting sessions involving the large community
  • an unveiling of the mural, accompanied by a public discussion of the mural and the data-driven story it tells


In short, we’re not quite sure what a Data Mural is yet, but we like the direction we’re going!  We’re reaching out to local community groups to find an excited partner to try out this richer version of the pilot we just did.  Drop me a line if you’re interested!

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