How to Make a Data Mural

We’ve helped community groups create data murals around world.  Here’s an outline of the process we use.  Drop use an email if you’d like to see more detailed workshops agendas.

Step 1: Identify partners/ Choose your participants

  • Invite the leadership of your groups or organization
  • Invite the people served by your group
  • Is it useful to involve the larger community?
  • Are there other stakeholders who could be part of choosing a message that’s shared with the public?
  • Are there other stakeholders who you’ve been hoping to engage?

Step 2: Identify the goals of the project

  • Are you trying to reach a particular group with a message?
  • Are you interested in engaging someone in a new way?
  • Do you want your organization to think more creatively about data presentation?

Step 3: Find some data

  • Ask yourself:
    • Do I collect any information each year?
    • What do we tell our funders about our success?
    • Have we been asking our clients or customers any questions?
  • Pull the data together into something simple and read-able (choose the information that’s interesting or complete)

Step 4: Hold a story-finding workshop

  • Share the data with them and ask them to “find stories” that the data tell
  • Have the group look at all of the stories and choose one that feels most important to tell publicly

Step 5: Hold a design workshop

  • Take your group’s story and help them turn it into a visual design
  • Talk about ways to visualize data
  • Play with “building activities”
  • Use word webs to expand abstract concepts
  • Use collaborative drawings activity to generate designs
  • Together, take elements of the designs to turn into one mural

Step 6: Paint the mural

  • Can have participants transfer the image (grid or project)
  • If time is limited, keep the design flat so that it can be painted all at once
  • Can do a first pass of background color, then second pass of details, shading, etc, then third pass of text and fine detail

Step 7: Publicly unveil/present the mural

  • This is a way to get press, to start conversations, to raise awareness of the issues it discusses
  • Can give a “sneak peek” to one group if they agree to cover it

Step 8: Evaluate

  • Do pre-post testing
  • Get comments from participants as the project ends as wells as after a few months
  • Other things we’ve thought about:
    • A chalkboard section for feedback, taking photos every few days or weeks
    • A QR code so people can respond with their phones
    • A discussion session to get feedback from the public after it’s been up a while


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