Rarau Mai Living City by OOM Creative

An immersive exhibition focussing on the use data as a creative medium to tell stories about people & place.

Our brief was to design an immersive permanent exhibition space that uses data to tell stories about the City of Auckland for the Auckland War Memorial Museum, New Zealand. These stories are categorised into three main themes relating to the city: people, environments, and systems. Part of the brief was also to design the spatial configuration of the exhibit to enable these stories to be experienced, which we resolved as series or large format projections, on walls and the floor, a tall LED tower, an interactive touchscreen, and a full room spatial sound-scape. A main challenge for the project was how to make data both immersive and informative, and achieve this for a range of ages and local & international visitors.


The project commenced with a series of workshops that focussed on the future of data within museum contexts and initial spatial and technical testing of design concepts. We and the AWMM team then worked with a range of government agencies to access unique datasets to be brought to life in the exhibit and design how each dataset would be visualised within the space of the exhibition. The visualisations are curated into the three main themes of the exhibition with the whole room running for 15 minutes of audio visual content (a video of space can be viewed here). The final composition for the room was decided through iterative balancing between visualisation requirements and the soundscape.


The key aspect of this project was to enable audiences to both learn from data but also to have an immersive experience of it. Different audiences require various levels of information presentation, and the elements in the room are designed to accommodate this. The floor projection is tailored to younger visitors - visuals are more abstracted renderings of the data: focussing on colours and movement, and enabling children to sit, lie or even dance within the projection. The LED tower presents data as text, data in its most minimal form, changing and reformatting for each thematic. The wall projections present the main thematic visuals for the exhibit, immersing audiences in immense data sets as a rich visual tapestry of meaning. The interactive touchscreen enables further investigation of the information for teens and older visitors while the spatial sound-scape ties the entire experience together.

Data Design Innovation:

- Wide range of datasets included to present a rich picture of place: geospatial, census, GPS, LIDAR, etc
- Use of spatial sound to make data & information more relatable
- Telling indigenous stories of place through data for diverse audiences

By taking a different approach to storytelling and showing data in a visually compelling way, we have been able to reach audiences who do not engage with traditional presentations of data and who may be inspired to now consider data as relevant to their lives.