Shakespeare in the Royal Collection

Acquisition Visualisation


I've been interested in data visualisation for a while and relooking at the notes from the Shakespeare in the Royal Collection project after returning to work from maternity leave at King's Digital Lab, I felt some points in the initial documents weren’t reflected on the staging site at the time. In particular an answer from the questionnaire given to the partners which was:“1. Summarize & prioritize your goals for the site? - Illustrate/support an argument about the relationship between Shakespeare and the royals” . I thought a visual representation using some of the data could bring together those initial thoughts and ideas. Using my 10% King's Digital Lab time, I started some initial work on this.


This is still a work in progress starting from mockups ideas to trying out some of the ideas in a bit more detail. Most have been done in illustrator just by plotting some of the data points manually. I have shown these to the partners who have some back with their feedback. The next step is to confirm which version that would like to take further. I will then integrate the data and code it up.

digitally hand drawn sketches
Sketches in Paper app

The initial idea was to get an overview of the objects acquired by the acquirers in a timeline of layers. On the x axis - acquirers’ lifespans, y axis - objects they acquired per year and at a glance would be easy to see who the top/bottom acquirers are, when they lived. Individual objects acquired per person could be explored more in detail. Additional data like coronation date/wedding/dependents were added as it is usually the type of data the general public are curious about and more likely to relate with, the data would be easy to obtain, and was interested to see if there were any patterns that would emerge from the combination. Relationship to persons could also be discovered.

Although this layout could possibly show a lot of information, I had feedback that it was also very confusing. In particular, the combination of the smaller charts within. Overlaying would be a big issue if a several acquirers had similar number of objects and timelines.

prototype version 1
Version 1

Version 2 was an adaption from Version 1 with the removal of the y axis and dependents. The x axis would still be time. Each rectangle would represent a person, the width would be their lifespan, starting chronologically by birth year at the top. The orange triangle/crown icon depicts coronation, blue triangle/flower depicts wedding. The squares are the individual objects, and all placed accordingly on the x axis. The height of the rectangle will represent the total number of objects.

This would solve the overlay issue but with about 60 acquirers, the cascading step effect might look very messy and take a lot of space.

prototype version 2
Version 2

This third version strips out a lot from the previous versions to focus and highlight certain information in a cleaner format. I designed the project's logo, a request from the partners at the beginning of the project, and wanted integrate that style with the next prototype version.

some logo options
Some logo ideas and variations and final ones outlined

There is no axis. Each square is a person, and can be arranged chronologically by birth year, top left moving right downwards. The example below is grouped by century and by number of objects acquired. This will give a better sense of acquirers per century if a comparison is needed. It gives a rough overview of the person’s lifespan from the angle of the triangle. It is easier visually to see the number of total objects acquired with the squares stacked in a corner, also represented in numeric form but there’s no visual indication to the year objects were acquired. Coronation is depicted by a circle; the size represents years in reign.

This might have a very uneven layout if one century has a lot of acquirers and might not be easy to layout on smaller screens. Not sure if it’s too stripped down, missing too much interesting information that the earlier versions had. Or if some things, like the lifespan (triangle), or years of reign is not obvious/necessary.

prototype version 3
Version 3

Update: I started working on a simple prototype of version 3 but took a break from it as I didn't have all the data.