Playing with our Museums Data

Google Fusion Tables is a fairly simple way to go from spreadsheet to data visualization. In this tutorial, you’ll upload a spreadsheet containing the data we created on our Omeka site (which you can find here) and use it to create a map and some charts.

Open Google Fusion Tables


Click on “Create a Fusion Table” and sign in with your Google account. (If you don’t have a Google account, pair up with another student!)


Once you’re in, click on Choose File and then select the is289omeka.csv file you downloaded earlier. For Separator Character, keep the options as they are (with Comma selected) and then click Next. On the next screen, click Next again, and finally, click Finish.

What’s this?

The next screen shows you your spreadsheet just as it was when you were looking at it in Excel. If you look closely, you’ll see that Fusion Tables has highlighted the data in the first column (the “title” data). Although you don’t have any way of knowing this, I happen to know that this is because Fusion Tables thinks that this is your location data. But we know that’s wrong!

Change the location column

Scroll to the right on your table until you see the “Spatial Coverage” column. If you hover your mouse on the column heading, you’ll see a drop-down menu appears when you click the arrow. From that menu, click on Change.

Then, in the next window, choose Location as the type. Leave all the other options the same and click the Save button. Now your Fusion Table knows that your Spatial Coverage column contains location data.

Check out a map of locations

Click on the Map of Title tab, but then click on “Pause Geocoding” on the window that pops up. Change the Location column to “Spatial Coverage” and then click on Resume Geocoding. When the geocoding completes, you should have a map of museums. Click around and see how much of the data is accurate.

Hey, you have a map!


Pretty cool. You can click on each of the points to see which photo was taken there. Play with the various options to see what you get.

Share, if you want.


You can share this map if you want! Just click on the Share button and share the map the same way you’d share a Google doc. You can also embed the map on a website by clicking on Tools and then Publish.

Make some graphs and charts.


Let’s look at some other views of the same data. Click on the red “plus” sign on the tabs menu and select Add Chart.

Make a bar chart.

Click on the bar chart icon and for Category, select Subject. Check the Summarize data checkbox. (An easier way to create a summary bar chart is just to choose the Summarize option when you’re opening a new tab — but this way we can switch among different chart types.)

Play with other chart types.

Use these charts to explore your dataset as you try to get a sense of its contours. Pay attention to what the data can and can’t tell you about our collection of data.