The long-anticipated exhibit of Martin Waldseemüller’s 1507 world map — you know, the first one to name the New World “America” — opens this Thursday at the Library of Congress. The sole surviving copy of Waldseemüller’s map, which has been in the Library of Congress’s possession since 2003, when it bought the map for $10 million, but was formally transferred in a ceremony earlier this year, will be on display inside its super-secure, argon-filled display case.
“Exploring the Early Americas,” which features items from the Jay I. Kislak Collection and Martin Waldseemüller’s 1507 World Map — the first document of any kind to use the word “America” — focuses on the history and legacies of the Americas and the impact of European contact, culture and conquest. It opens Thursday, Dec. 13, in the Northwest Galleries of the Great Hall of the Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. S.E., Washington, D.C. The exhibition, with labels presented in both English and Spanish, is free and open to the public from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday–Saturday.
Last week’s New York Times Magazine had a story about the Waldseemüller map; the Reuters wire story (here and here, for example) examines some of the map’s mysteries, such as the apparent presence of an ocean west of the Americas (conjecture, I suspect) and the fact that Waldseemüller removed both that ocean and the name “America” from the map in subsequent editions.
- Buy Putting “America” on the Map at Amazon.com