Faces of Sweden

Explore faces and costume through time by visualising portraits in the Nordic Museum

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Timeline design for visualising cultural heritage data, PhD thesis, Chapter 8.

Select small time spans to focus on and compare different periods. Or by selecting a wide time span, cut across time to observe changes.

Portraits from the past can tell us a lot. What did people wear? What sort of people were painted? How did they want to be presented? ‘Faces of Sweden’ is an interactive timeline showcasing historical portraits from the Nordic Museum, Stockholm. Use it to cut through time, compare different periods and see how clothes, hairstyles and the style of portraiture changes.

The timeline displays 785 portraits (mostly oil paintings but also prints, silhouettes, photographs) dating 1570-2003.

Try the prototype yourself at this webpage. The code is open-source and can be found on Github. It has since been remixed by the Auckland War Memorial Museum.

This design was commissioned by the Swedish National Heritage Board (Riksantikvarieämbetet) as part of a exploration into 'Generous Interfaces' to cultural collections: "rich, browsable interfaces that reveal the scale and complexity of digital heritage collections". You can read more about this work in the Europeana Tech special issue on Generous Interfaces and on the Riksantikvarieämbetet blog (Swedish language).

Faces of Sweden interface contrasting portraits from around 1610, and around 1800

Portraits in the Nordic Museum collection, ordered vertically oldest to newest

Faces of Sweden exhibited at Royal College of Art