Beauty of Data exhibit opens at MuseLab


Visitors at the reception gather together to view the exhibit in the MuseLab on Thursday, Feb. 4.

Kimberly Laferty

The Beauty of Data exhibit held its opening reception on Feb. 4 on the third floor of the University Library.

The exhibit was in the MuseLab and showcased submitted visualizations of data. Approximately 45 people attended the event. The data are in 2-D and 3-D visualizations by Kent State researchers from different fields of study including anthropology, biological sciences, fashion, geography, geology, library and information science and visual communication design.

The exhibits had audio recordings and labels describing what was displayed, video accompanied some. Visitors could access the researcher’s audio recordings through their phone.

Mitch Sumner, a library and information science graduate student, helped in the process of creating the exhibit. Sumner said that he’s excited the exhibit is open.

“I do want a career in museums, that’s why I’m here, and this is my first big museum opening,” Sumner said. “It’s exciting to see like sort of the beginnings of maybe this is what my career will be like, just kind of build exhibits.”

The idea for the Beauty of Data exhibit came from Kiersten Latham, the MuseLab director and a School of Library and Information Sciences (SLIS) assistant professor. She joined with Corina Iannaggi, who recently graduated in December with her masters in library and information science.

Iannaggi said Latham was inspired by the faculty’s work at SLIS, along with their visualizations when they talked about their research. When Latham brought the idea to Iannaggi, it wasn’t what she expected.

“The first (things) that came to my mind, I was thinking like bar graphs, pie charts, kind of like that blue, red, and green Microsoft excel graphic,” Iannaggi said. ”Even though I know I’ve seen other visualizations than that, but that was the first thing that I thought.”

Sumner said he started to work on the idea in fall 2015. He said it was his first big project as the MuseLab manager. He said Iannaggi and Latham had already conceived the idea, but that he helped with everything else.

They began to think about how they wanted the display to look, how they were going to get people to participate and then they came up with the final design after the researchers submissions came in.

They decided that they wanted to focus on research from all of Kent State researchers and see how people from different fields of study visualize their data. All of the work submitted was previously done, Iannaggi said.

They sent out an email proposal asking researchers to submit their work if they wanted to see it in a display.

Iannaggi said they were curious to see what kinds of things would be submitted.

“We were quite surprised when we saw some of the submissions,” Iannaggi said. “They were better than we could have ever imagined.”

Iannaggi said that the process was a fun challenge because they had the submissions first and then came up with a design. She said it was opposite of what is typically done in a museum.

When people come to visit the exhibit, Iannaggi hopes they come with an open mind. She also wants visitors to give the exhibit a chance.

Chloe Bragg, a library information and science graduate student, said the exhibit aligned with what she hopes to do with her degree.

“It was really was nice to be able to see,” Bragg said.

The exhibit will be on display through fall 2016.

Kimberly Laferty is the libraries reporter for The Kent Stater, contact her at [email protected].