Visualizing Culture Index in the USA



Since I’m a MS Museums & Digital Culture student at Pratt, a program that focuses on the ways in which museums use digital technology and media to enhance services and engage with visitors across physical and virtual contexts, I have a special interest in collecting data related to cultural activities across the country (and the globe!). In this Culture Index search I intended to understand better what US states are the main cultural producers and consumers, where the action is, also keeping an eye for where it is not – because it means there is still a lot of opportunity to grow.

See interactive map here.

Materials & Methods:

I mapped a dataset from the Market Profile Data – Quality of Life (2021) via Social Explorer and published the map utilizing their platform. I altered the standard colors of monochrome to a more varied and contrasting spectrum. After that, I exported the data to MS Excel and utilized Datawrapper to visualize the bar chart. I rearranged the chart placing the state with the highest culture index on top of the list in order to facilitate comparisons and visualization.

Click here to open the chart on Datawrapper.

Results & Reflections:

I’ve selected the most recent dataset (from 2021) to take in consideration effects of the pandemic on the Culture Index, since many venues and galleries went out of business or opened after 2020.

The map shows how states in the extremes West and East have higher numbers in general than states in the middle of the country. Also, I was impressed and surprised by the high culture index of Hawaii, beating states like New York and District of Columbia. I must say this raised questions in my head about whether I really understood what ‘Culture Index’ means. Even though I did a lot of research online I am not sure I fully grasped it, there wasn’t a substantial explanation for it. From my perspective after reading a lot about it, Culture Index compiles the amount of cultural infrastructure (cinemas, theaters, museums, concert halls, libraries, book shops, etc.), cultural production (artists, performers, writers) and the level of consumption and participation in cultural activities by the working age population.

Priscilla Ignacio, 22/FA-INFO-658-01