Coins - A Journey Through a Rich Cultural Collection by University of Applied Sciences Potsdam

Do you remember playing with the coins of your parents and the journeys they spoke of? Now you have the chance to do the same thing again, but this time with a lot more coins belonging to one of the biggest coin collections in the world, the Münzkabinett Berlin! Every coin has its own history. It could even be that Alexander the Great or Caesar held them in their hands and spent them on their world changing wars! This tool gives you the chance to explore these coins and sort them through different layouts and filters.

This visualization system represents a subset of the the numismatic collection using overview layouts that relate the material nature of the coins with their historical context. In the dynamic arrangements it becomes possible receive an impression of its total size and gain new insights by sorting the coins by different layouts. These layouts reminisce physical arrangements of coins that detest the rigid order of tables and grids. For example, coins can be placed into separate piles each representing a given metal type or country of origin. Another layout is a stream that visualizes the ebb and flow of coins that can be teased apart by another dimension such as coin type or country. The interface allows the viewer to play with the coins in a manner that would be unthinkable in the physical exhibition. Across all these arrangements the visualizations are made up of the images of the coins. When a parameter of the layout is changed all coins gradually rearrange themselves resulting in evocative transitions.

The overall aim behind this research was to conceive alternative arrangements that do justice to the multidimensional and material abundance that the collection exhibits while providing a playful mode of access that is inviting to a lay audience. We undertook an iterative design process which consisted of visits to the physical museum as well as to the online database, co-creation activities such as a collaging workshop with numismaticians, and finally typical design methods such as sketching and prototyping interleaved with feedback sessions and evaluation.