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Museums and the Web

An annual conference exploring the social, cultural, design, technological, economic, and organizational issues of culture, science and heritage on-line.

The city of horrors

People's Choice:
2 votes


Center of Contemporary Culture of Barcelona (CCCB)


Ignasi Rifé




From 26 May 2010 to 12 September 2010, the Center of Contemporary Culture of Barcelona held the exhibition “Barcelona, Valencia, Palma. A History of Confluence and Divergence”. The exhibition showcased the present-day situation of three Mediterranean cities: Barcelona, Valencia and Palma, concentrating on two fundamental aspects: the urban and the human landscape. One of the sections of the exhibition was “The Ugly City”, a space inside the exhibition that showed how urban planning corruption and tourism has changed the landscapes of these three cities.  Part of the contents of this section was created with the results of a participatory project: “The city of Horrors”.


“The City of Horrors” occupied two spaces: one physical (the exhibition) and one virtual (a website). Via the virtual space, visitors could submit and vote for photographs of ugly places in Barcelona, Valencia and Palma. The most voted images on the website then went on to the physical space, where they were projected in a mural that changed every day according to the voting. This mural represented “The City of Horrors”, a mixed metropolis produced by combining the least attractive places in the three Mediterranean cities.

The City of Horrors (physical space at exhibition)

The city of Horrors (virtual space: website) 

*Recent version of the website (participation closed and mosaic completed:



*Old version of the website (participation open to submit and vote photos)


The city of Horrors (virtual space: website*)

POST A PHOTO: By submitting one or more photographs of an aspect of the Barcelona, Valencia or Palma (architecture, urban design or development, landscape) that visitor consider to represent its “ugliness”. The photo was posted on the website.

VOTE A PHOTO: By voting the posted photos. The visitor clicked on the photographs and said whether he agreed that this place was one of the city’s ugliest (YES), or that he didn’t agree (NO). People could vote for as many images as they liked.


With their online and in-present votes, the visitors created “The City of Horrors”, an interactive mural inside the exhibition. The most voted photos were displayed on real time in this mural, a mixture of images of the ugliest places in Barcelona, Valencia and Palma.

The city of horrors - intereactive mosaic displayed at the exhibition

Interesting points of this participatory project

  • It mixed the online and the in-person participation.People could participate (submit photos and vote) via website and also inside the exhibition.
  • The contents contributed by users became part of the exhibition project.
  • It was the internauts rather than the exhibition curator or coordinator who decided, with their votes, which images should be projected in the mural. The visitors could decide which works should be displayed on the exhibition (interactive mural) by voting the ugliest places. Only the most voted images were shown.
  • It attracted visitors to the exhibition. All the photographers of images that were accepted and published on the CCCB’s website and in the interactive mosaic received 2 invitations to visit the exhibition.  Participants also were curious to see which images were projected in the mural.
  • Integration with social media: People shared their photos on Facebook and Twitter.
  •  It showed people point of view of a problem that affects citizens: the ugliness in the city. The result was an interesting visual map of what buildings and public spaces annoy people in Barcelona, Valencia and Palma. It also showed the work of some interesting photographers and artists interested in cities and its ugliness. 

 Some statistics

  •  From late May until the end of September: 477 photographs were published, all together receiving 84,704 votes.
  • More than 3,600 users visited the website during the four months the show ran.
  • According to the users, Barcelona is the city with most ugly places, followed by Valencia and Palma, with most of the photos submitted (406) being of public space in Barcelona.
  • Many participants sent in images of specific objects (puddles, rubble, piles of rubbish, abandoned bicycles, etc.) as though what really bothers us about the city is not so much the urban space itself as the way people treat it.