ASEMUS on Google Maps

The research report below was written for the Asia-Europe Museum Network’s Mapping of Asian Collections Project. The project aims to use Google Maps to create an interface to map Asian museum collections in Asia and Europe.

1. Introduction
This document aims to inform the project about technical possibilities and limitations, and:
  • enable us to communicate more effectively with technical partners;
  • save time and money;
  • ensure the final product is accessible, useful and scalable.

It looks at the practicalities of implementing a Google Map embedded on the ASEMUS website with an interface that enables users to visualize locations of Asian collections by:

  • Type
  • Country
  • Region

2. Preliminary Data

Countries, Regions, Collection Types                                       Museums
>Collections from 19 Asian countries
>Three regions:

  • East Asia
  • South Asia
  • South East Asia

>20 Collection types, plus others

Musee du quai Branly, Paris, France
Asia-Pacific Museum,Warsaw,Poland
Muzium Negara,Malaysia
National Museum of Korea
National Museum of Ethnology, Leiden

3. Tools
Google’s Spreadsheet Mapper 2.0

  • A powerful free Google tool for mapping up to 400 locations
  • Six ready-made balloon designs to quickly create attractive placemarks

Google Docs Spreadsheet

  • Gdocs integrates with the Spreadsheet Mapper 2.0

Google Maps API Styled Map Wizard

Google Analytics

  • Tracks visitors on maps enabling genuine assessment of the value/success of the project
  • GA needs to be setup to track “Events” to obtain useful data

4. Working examples of Google Map projects
4.1 The World Justice Map has what I would describe as two layers. The first layer, as shown above, allows users to click on an organisation and an Info Bubble will popup. If the blue “Gov2u” link is clicked, it takes users to a page on the site describing the organisation.

The second layer is called “Data”. It draws on available data sets, e.g. the “Corruption Perception Index”. When the option is checked the map changes dynamically to show nations perceived to be corrupt in a darker color, and a lighter color if considered less corrupt.

4.2 AnyPlace is a fantastic example of using Google Maps API and the Open Source CollectiveAccess, a Web-based software to catalogue, manage & Publish museum & archival collections, which has beenwidely adopted by museums across Europe & the USA.
The AnyPlace platform is available for purchase, but it costs US$20,000. (A bargain for a city or institution wanting to setup a mapping portal based on historical archives, like Something NHB should consider)Viewing the “Map” sectionof AnyPlace, offers insights on how ASEMUS could structure its map interface. The project could create search by “Collection Origin” (Country/Region) and “Collection Type” and show the related Museums on the map in Asia & Europe.5. ASEMUS Project Layer 1: Museum Layer
After reviewing Google’s Spreadsheet Mapper 2.0 tool, I think the implementation of the Museum layer of this project (see 4.1 “first layer” World Justice Map above) is very straight forward.
A working example can be set up with six museums.Two or three new pages on the ASEUMS site would need to be set up to provide a good linked working example.6. ASEMUS Project Layer 2: Collections Mapping Layer
The development of the second layer (See AnyPlace Map section example above), is more involved and would require expert advice to setup a good interface. Also see point 8 below.7. Considering Possible Additions in the Future
Informing developers that the map may be used to show other data sets in the future, would be time & cost effective.A three tab display could be used to map (See example below)
  • Asian collections
  • Museum professionals & expertise
  • Mapping of museum-related projects & engagements across Asia & Europe
8. To Embed or not to Embed!
Ideally, it would be best to embed the map with full functionality into the ASEMUS site. This is quite difficult to achieve.
Contacting  companies like, who are Qualified Google Developers for Google Maps JS API, or Night Kitchen Interactive, creators of AnyPlace,  is a good option.

9. WordPress Plugins to embed Google Maps
Several free plugins are available to embed Google Maps in to the ASEMUS site:

10. Extras
10. 1 Animated Google Map Pins
At the 2011 Google IO conference, google introduced animations for map pins. The feature adds a small layer of interactivity which improves user experience.

10.2 Useful Videos
Google I/O 2011: Secrets and surprises of the Google Geo APIs
Google I/O 2011: Speedy Maps (How to optimize Google maps for speed)
Mapping with Google Spreadsheet Mapper 2.0
Google Earth Outreach YouTube Channel
What is Google My Maps and how do I use it?

10.3 Useful Links
Meeting for the Mapping of Asian Collections Project
Ubilabs: Google Maps API – Best Practices
Google Maps API Family
Using Spreadsheet Mapper 2.0 with Google Earth & Google Maps
Create a map from a published Google Spreadsheet
AnyPlace: a reusable platform for mapping and sharing history
PhilaPlace to AnyPlace: Building a Reusable Community Platform for Mapping and Sharing History
Creating an Online Digital Consortium for Historic Collections
Putting Museum Collections on the Map: Application of Geographic Information Systems
Google My Maps User Guide