Rhizomes Institutional Map, Pt. 1

The map is an important part of Rhizomes

As a long-term, decolonial initiative to enhance the online discoverability of Mexican American art, Rhizomes is a growing assembly of various nodes of engagement.

(See the “Rhizomes Basics” blog post for more info about our decolonial, post-custodial approach.)

We think of nodes as the small yet vital pulses that carry nourishment and information to the larger organism. That’s right, Rhizomes is a living digital system. And the many email threads, survey responses, Twitter feeds, and old-fashioned phone calls between our collaborators allow this work to take shape and thrive. These nodes of engagement are not just relationships—they are the animating force that empowers Rhizomes to disrupt the longstanding invisibility of Mexican American art. Pulse by pulse, we are expanding the capacity of users to resonate with the artistic excellence and courageous creativity of generations of Mexican American artists. The Rhizomes Institutional Map is a way for us to acknowledge and honor all those who have labored so painstakingly to protect and care for what amounts to nothing short of a vital historical and ongoing legacy of the United States. 

(Read more here about the landscape analysis behind the mapping of Rhizomes.)

Performing the initial landscape analysis was an important step for Rhizomes and allowed us to create the Rhizomes Institutional Map. The map is both a visual representation of Rhizomes institutional partners throughout the US and a means to seek out and cultivate new relationships.

With generous support from the Henry Luce Foundation, Rhizomes has collaborated with RomoGIS Enterprises to develop the Rhizomes Institutional Map, which uses an ArcGIS web application to allow users to see the work we’ve done so far creating nodes of engagement with institutions where Mexican American art is housed: libraries, archives, museums, and others. Here, we will describe how to use the following features/buttons located in the top left corner of the map: map navigation tools, info summary tool, filter buttons, and share options.

Map Navigation Tools

After opening the Rhizomes Institutional Map, the first thing you might want to do is navigate around the map.

In order to zoom in and out you can use the + (plus), - (minus), to adjust the map zoom level.
Third from the top is the “home” button, and is represented by the house icon. This button will allow you to reset your map to the initial zoom level and center location in case you get lost while moving around the map.
The fourth button from the top is the “find my location” button. When clicked, this button will use your wifi address to show your generalized location on the map. This can be useful when you are looking for institutions near your current address.

 Info summary tool

After opening the Rhizomes Institutional Map, you can select the info summary widget to see a dropdown list for a quick overview of all the institutions on the map. Notice that all the institutions are placed into one of four categories: Archive, Museum, Library, or Other

By clicking on the drop down button located on the right hand side of the info summary window, you can expand the list to see all of the institutions that fall within that category. Once the list is expanded, you can select an institution to find basic information and you will see that it has been selected on the map. You can then zoom in to get a closer look at the community level or zoom out to see how it fits into the broader landscape.

Filter buttons

Using the filter widget will allow you to toggle the map layers on and off with the click of a button. In the filter window, you will notice that each category is displayed separately, allowing you to turn a specific category on/off on the map. For instance, if you click on or activate the button named “Turn On/Off Archive Layer,” you will notice that the map icons change to only show the institutions that are in the Archive category. 

Turning the filters on and off will allow you to see how the different types of institutions are dispersed throughout the U.S. and sort through the data more methodically.

Clicking the arrow at the bottom right hand corner of the filter window allows you to reset/clear the filter buttons and return the map initial to its initial state showing all of the icons and categories. 

Share options

One of the most exciting features on the map is the ability to customize and share the Rhizomes Institutional Map with others. 

By clicking on the share icon you will generate a link that can be shared via social media platforms and opened in any web browser or mobile device. 

For additional customization, click the “link options” text to find the various ways you can customize your link. A custom link will help ensure that anyone who receives your link will be looking at the exact same map image as you. This can be very useful when you want to share a specific institution or area of the map with your friends and colleagues.

Interacting with the Map

By selecting an individual icon on the map, you can zoom in to get a closer look. Once you click on the icon you will be prompted with a pop-up window with more information about the institution. We are looking to gather as much data as possible about institutions that house Mexican-American Art collections. 

By clicking on the drop down button located on the right hand side of the info summary window, you can expand the list to see all of the institutions that fall within that category. Once the list is expanded, you can select an institution to find basic information and you will see that it has been selected on the map. You can then zoom in to get a closer look at the community level or zoom out to see how it fits into the broader landscape.

How You Can Help

After accessing the pop-up window you can select “Click here to add information about your institution” text to fill out more information about that institution. If you have a contact at the institution, have any information about named collections at the institution, or just want to get in touch with us, please fill out this form and we will follow up with you at our earliest convenience. The link will take you to a short survey where you can provide information about your institution’s collection of Mexican American Art so that Rhizomes can connect with you.

The Rhizomes Institutional Map is a great starting point for us to begin our approach of building a decolonial model for data management between institutions. It is our hope that with this map and your participation that we can create the space for collectors, archivists, librarians, and content specialists to redesign and remake pathways to carry the digital stewardship of Mexican American art into the future. 

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