George Mason UniversitySchool of Business

Art and Analytics Collide in DC: School of Business Marketing Professors Team up with Mason Art History Student at National Gallery of Art Datathon Event

Written by Jennifer Anzaldi on .

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Finding the integration of art with our evolving world of technology and science can be challenging. Recently, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., took steps to bring together artists and scientists in a unique event.

A multidisciplinary team consisting of Paul Albert, Mason graduate student in art history and computational social sciences, and School of Business faculty members, Gautham Vadakkepatt, assistant professor of marketing, and Laurie Meamber, associate professor of marketing, were recently invited by the National Gallery of Art to join a team of data scientists and art historians to analyze, contextualize, and visualize their permanent collection data. The study culminated in a two-day Datathon during which the teams finalized their visualizations and presented their findings at a public livestreamed event on Friday, October 25.

This National Gallery of Art is the first American art museum to invite teams of data scientists and art historians together for this analysis.

Paul Albert

“Data analytics and the visualization of data touches many fields, including art,” says Meamber. “The National Gallery of Art offered this incredible opportunity to us to learn more and share our insights about the permanent collection. Our team, led by Paul Albert, examined the popularity of artists in the NGA’s collection by developing an engagement measure based on Wikipedia page views. The engagement scores for the permanent collection artists can assist the NGA’s marketing and social media efforts to attract, interest, and inform visitors.”

Meamber says the team came together after Albert approached her. “Albert’s background combines art history and computational social sciences. He was looking potentially for team members in marketing that could lend expertise in the domains of display, assortments, and merchandising more generally that could be potentially useful for looking at art display in museums. I reached out to Gautham given his expertise in both retailing and marketing analytics.”

Datathon researchers

In addition to Mason, researchers from institutions across the country attended including Bennington College, Carnegie Mellon University, Duke University, Macalester College, New College of Florida, University of California, Los Angeles, and Williams College.

For Meamber, participating brought “a great opportunity to work in a multidisciplinary team with both Paul and Gautham, to interact with and learn from National Gallery of Art representatives and with the other teams at the Datathon, and to spend some dedicated time at the National Gallery of Art and with the data, learning more about the permanent collection.”

The Datathon is one of many efforts by the Gallery to make its collection more widely available to the public, currently offering 53,000 images available to the public for download.

Watch the video livestream: Coding Our Collection: The National Gallery of Art Datathon.

To interact with the dashboards the team built for the challenge, see George Mason University NGA Datathon Team.


At the School of Business, our faculty are thought leaders, actively involved in local management and business issues. The School of Business Graduate Certificate in Business Analytics helps business professionals to effectively analyze big data through the hands-on use of modeling and other techniques using popular software tools.

Read more about the Datathon in an article featured on Mason’s website, “Mason Team Offers Insights at National Gallery of Art’s Datathon"