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It is common to regard the science and art of data visualization as distinctively modern, as if bar graphs, line charts, pie charts, colour-coded maps, timelines, and infographics are recent creations. Emerging Patterns: Data Visualization Throughout History asks us to revise this view by inviting visitors to engage with early data visualizations and their creators. The exhibition explores some of the history of data visualization and uncovers how people much like us, from diverse backgrounds and disciplines, have been wrestling with the graphical representation of information for centuries. Fisher’s collection houses extraordinary, and beautiful examples from the  history of data visualization, including many  historically significant first examples, false starts, curiosities, and instructive errors. The collection includes uniquely Canadian items, as well as examples created by individuals from historically excluded groups, many of whom exerted significant influence on the development of data visualization. 

A modern audience can glean important lessons and insights from considering the evolution of data visualizations, the role of new technology, and the way these historic visualizations were used–and abused–to inform and persuade. Emerging Patterns was the first exhibition of its kind in Canada and one of only a few in the world. 

The exhibition was curated by Aurora Mendelsohn, Anthony Gray and Kelly Shultz and ran from May 23-August 18, 2023.

This online version was created by Aurora Mendelsohn and Anthony Gray.