List of Physical Visualizations
and Related Artifacts


  1. I ADORE you research, so grateful for this resource! I also appreciate your excellent tools for submission, — we will send some of my material in the next few days. Some early categories of physical visualizations you probably already considered: 

    Money – coins, bills, tokens

    Abacus and other counting and number storing devices

    All maquettes and scale models

    Purple pigment in European painting – the more the richer you were

    Inspired by your list!


    • Thanks a lot Rafael for your positive feedback!

      Those are all fascinating examples of human artifacts, although it's hard to tell which of these would reasonably qualify as physical visualizations. The boundaries are certainly blurry and people may have different ideas of what the term means, but for now our position is that it needs to be i) physical and ii) data-driven (like common visualizations — See Robert Kosara’s discussion). So we tend to think that scale models, like figurative sculptures, are probably something else. Now it's true that we also occasionally include related artifacts, especially when these artifacts can help understand physical visualizations or can help create novel ones.

      Those are all questions we’d be happy to discuss here.

  2. Gary Wolf says:

    Thank you for this excellent collection. I have been looking for a good image of the graphs of potential energy surfaces that, from biographical sources, I understand to have been drawn by Michael Polanyi and colleagues in the 1920's. If I find a source I'll send it; but would be glad to see it from anybody else who has it, or be corrected if my impression that these were drawn at that time is false.

    • Thanks a lot Gary for your positive feedback and your suggestions. Your knowledge of this domain seems to go far beyond ours. I'm curious, are the artifacts you are referring to drawings of 3D surfaces or are they actual solid models? Thanks!

  3. Great job!

    I wonder to know if this two initiatives could go in the list:


    * (in french but I guess you understand it)

    Also, we have referenced your initiative in our resource database:



  4. Fariz says:

    Hi Pierre!

    I am a Design Communication undergrad currently writing an extended essay on physical visualizations. Do you have any references I can look at to assist with my findings? Your site is definitely a haven for me 🙂

    Thank you!

  5. jake says:

    Hi Pierre and Yvonne, 

    I'm interested in uploading an undergraduate project that I think fits right in, but I have no photos of it online. Is it otherise impossible to upload photos?