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Museum to launch digital storytelling project using data about the movement of people during lockdown
The Natural History Museum, London.

LONDON.- As part of a brand new public engagement initiative around the environmental impacts of Covid-19, the Natural History Museum is collaborating with data visualisation company Beyond Words to illustrate how the movement of people has altered during lockdown.

Using a variety of open source data, the Museum will engage people with the dramatic societal changes that have taken place since lockdown measures were announced on 23 March.

Through compelling infographics, articles, videos and social media which bring this data to life, the Museum will crowdsource perspectives from the public to discover which three environmental impacts of the lockdown they are most interested in. The project, which has received funding from the Natural Environment Research Council, will culminate in a live interactive online event in which audiences can pose questions to young and emerging researchers about those topics.

The Natural History Museum’s Executive Director of Public Engagement Clare Matterson says: “From goats colonising deserted streets in Wales to cleaner air and clear skies in London, the Covid-19 pandemic has presented an unprecedented view of our world with minimal human presence. We want to use this new appreciation of the human impact on the natural world to enhance understanding of our role in the interconnectedness of nature and excite people about the possibilities of environmental science. It is also an incredibly valuable listening exercise - an exciting opportunity to find out which environmental impacts the public care most about to help shape not only future exhibitions, and events but also scientific research projects.”

The project will draw on the unique strengths of the Museum which is both a world-leading scientific research centre and one of the most visited tourist attractions in the UK. A number of the Museum’s departments will be involved such as the digital team, whose output reached a diverse and broad audience of 14 million via the website in 2019, its audience research and advocacy and science communicator teams - as well as drawing on the expertise of its 300 scientists.

Duncan Swain, Partner and Creative Director, Beyond Words says: “Beyond Words Studio specialises in telling very human stories with data - and what could be more human than tracking the shifts in people’s movements and habits since COVID-19 has spread across the world? It's an amazing opportunity to be able to explore datasets with the Natural History Museum’s scientists, and we're super-excited to create some beautiful visualizations of the changing impacts we’re all having on the environment around us.”

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