about the workshop

On Saturday June 11, 2011, the Exploratorium's New Media Studio hosted a workshop on the subject of data visualization. The original call is below. The results and documentation can be found on the documentation page.

original call

For over forty years, the Exploratorium has created exhibits that allow visitors to interact and experiment with physical, cognitive, and perceptual phenomena. When modern science operates at much larger scales and much longer timeframes, a different approach is required. We are convening a workshop to address the challenges of bringing scientific data visualizations to the museum floor—and making them as engaging and explorable as the rest of our collection.

This workshop will bring together exhibit developers, scientists, and designers and developers of data visualizations. We will focus on prototyping systems for interaction with geospatial datasets describing current environmental science. This free, day-long workshop will take place on Saturday, June 11 at the Exploratorium in San Francisco.

The day will begin with short presentations by staff and scientists from the Exploratorium and the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) describing the science, the process of working with these data, and an overview of the Exploratorium's exhibit-development process. As we move into the day, we will collectively prototype the ideas generated by the morning's discussion.

For this workshop, we'll be working with data describing tracks of pelagic (open ocean) predators. The Exploratorium is 2 years into a 5-year partnership with NOAA designed to bring their science to the public. Through this partnership, we've learned of research by NOAA and other organizations on the travels of whales, tuna, seals, turtles, sharks, and other pelagic predators. The past 10 years of these data are publicly available on; we will provide the raw data to workshop participants.

about the exploratorium

The Exploratorium is a not-for-profit museum dedicated to public understanding of science, art, and human perception. It has pioneered the role of museums as active teaching centers with original exhibits and programming based on an interactive, inquiry-based approach to learning. It serves as an interdisciplinary resource for schools, universities, scientists, artists and the public. Most Exploratorium exhibits are originally-produced, first-hand experiences of physical and perceptual phenomena; they inspire curiosity and nurture visitors' innate, inquiry-based learning potentials.

In our new home at Piers 15 and 17 on the Embarcadero, sited directly above the San Francisco Bay, the Exploratorium will dive deeper into the environmental sciences. While we already provide engaging experiences in the Living Systems area in our current home, we will expand opportunities for visitors to explore the living world of the Bay in our new location. The newly-constructed Observatory Gallery will investigate other elements of our environment, from natural physical systems to built landscapes to invisible social structures.

To allow visitors to fully explore these topics, we recognize a need to present the scientific data that describe them. This is new ground for the Exploratorium; we aim to bring together our expertise in interaction design, creating visitor experiences, and evaluation and iterative prototyping with the deep knowledge around data visualization that workshop participants will bring. Together with our partners at NOAA and our friends in the greater new media community, we are confident that we can present compelling visitor interactions around current environmental science.


Attending the workshop was by invitation only. After a call for application, 16 participants were selected.

when & where

Saturday, June 11, 2011
at the Exploratorium

Food, drinks, etcetera will be provided.