The Museum Essay Assignment
For a field trip we were assigned to meet at the Museum of the City of New York. This museum is located in Manhattan. At the moment I am writing this they are having 5 exhibitions Urban Indian: Native New York Now, PRIDE, City of Workers/ City of Struggle, Who We Are, and Cultivating Culture: 34 Institutions That Changed New York. Although all exhibitions were interesting, I will be focusing on work from the Who We Are exhibition.
Who We Are, according to the Museum of the City of New York site, was created in anticipation of the 2020 census. Through this exhibition contemporary artist and data analysts worked together to exhibit data in an educational and visually interesting way. The first piece that caught my attention was “Landscapes of Inequality: New York City” created by Herwig Scherabon. From a distance the piece just looks like New York city but upon closer inspection there’s something different about this landscape. The artwork is made up of a matrix of cubes using the data from the 2017 American Community Survey five- year estimates. Through this work Scherabon wanted to communicate the boundaries within New York in a familiar landscape.
The next piece is “Stimulated Dendrochronology of Immigration to New York City, 1840-2017, 2019” created by Pedro Cruz, John Winbey, and Felipe Shibuya. In this piece from the use of color to differentiate geography and the positioning of each colored ring in the direction of the groups home countries. This is a very thoughtfull piece of work. The work uses census micro data from the Integrated Public use Micro Series.
This final was work was a piece I recognized from an exhibition held at my college. I don’t remember the name of the exhibition but I do remember this piece. “[The Georgia Negro] City and Rural Population. 1890.c. 1900” was created in 1890 showing data from this time as well. The work shows 86% of black Americans lived in areas, represented by the red bar. This red part of the piece was actually coiled so it would be able to fit on the page. Unlike the other pieces in this essay this artwork was made ink and watercolor.
I really enjoyed my trip to the Museum of the city of New York. It was very interesting seeing how art and data could come together and create such interesting pieces. It is likely data will be shown this way as norm in the near future.