Canada Before Confederation

Written by Chet Van Duzer and Lauren Beck, Canada Before Confederation: Maps at the Exhibition (Vernon Press, July 2017) explores 18 maps from the 16th through the 18th century. The book accompanies an exhibition of (presumably the same) maps and a conference, Canada Before Confederation: Early Exploration and Mapping, which takes place next month, 13-14 November, at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic in Halifax, Nova Scotia (preliminary conference program). The back cover copy mentions that the map exhibition has travelled or is travelling to several other locations, but I haven’t been able to find any online; if anyone knows where else it’s been, let me know and I’ll update this post. [WMS]

Map Exhibitions in Boston

“Bird’s-eye View of the Eastern Railroad Line to the White Mountains and Mt. Desert.” Boston: Rand Avery Supply Co., 1890. Harvard University Library.

Opening today at Harvard University in front of the Map Collection in Pusey Library and running until 28 February, Look but Don’t Touch: Tactile Illusions on Maps looks at the use of simulated textures in maps.

Beginning particularly in the eighteenth century, philosophers began to debate what role each of our senses has in this experience. For eighteenth-century philosophers, the crucial distinction was between sight and touch. Would we, they asked, be able to experience depth and understand size without our sense of touch? George Berkeley and Etienne Bonnot, Abbé de Condillac, among others, hypothesized that touch, in fact, was primarily responsible for our experience and understanding of space. All visual knowledge about depth and size, they suggested, derived from tactile experiences. In other words, we needed touch to teach us to see. But what happens to the map if we take seriously this challenge to a visual understanding of space?

All maps in this exhibition toy with the relationship between touch and sight. For some, their interest in touch and sight is ornamental. Either by delighting in the visual illusion of tactility or by referring to a visual cliché, these maps enliven their design—and attract buyers—by appealing to our hands. For others, their interest in touch and sight is about knowledge itself. Either by depicting cartographers’ tools and materials or by tempting us to touch what is not there, these maps play with our sense of what a map is and where it comes from. Paradoxically, they teach us visually about particular places while also questioning the basis for their own visual instruction.

The online version can be found here.

Meanwhile, the Boston Globe has a review of the Leventhal’s exhibition on subsurface mapping, Beneath Our Feet: Mapping the World Below (previously).

Three Map Exhibitions

Historic Maps of the Southwest, an exhibition at the Los Lunas Museum of Heritage and Arts in Los Lunas, New Mexico (just south of Albuquerque), features maps on loan from the Albuquerque Museum. Opened on 9 September and runs until the end of December. The Valencia County News-Bulletin has details: “Most of the maps in the exhibit are originals of the Spanish colonial era, the Mexican era, the New Mexico Territorial period and the early statehood period, such as the 1926 and 1928 automobile trail maps.” [WMS]

Beneath Our Feet: Mapping the World Below opened last Friday at the Boston Public Library’s Norman B. Leventhal Map Center and runs until 25 February 2018. The theme: subsurface mapping. “In this exhibition, you will see how ancient Romans carved vast underground catacombs, how minerals and natural resources have been studied, engineered and transported since the 19th century, how today’s scientific and cartographic advancements have enabled us to picture the entire ocean floor, and what lies below the streets of Boston.”

Finland in Ancient Cartography, an exhibition marking the 100th anniversary of Finland’s independence, is being hosted by the National Archives of Finland in Helsinki, in cooperation with the Embassy of Italy in Finland and the Italian Institute of Culture. “The exhibition focuses on the depiction of Finland and offers a journey through ancient cartography history and the representation of the country from the sixteenth to the twentieth century. It places special emphasis on satirical cartography between the end of nineteenth century and the First World War, as these periods are strictly connected to Finnish independence. More than 40 maps from the Gianni Brandozzi Collection and the National Archives are displayed.” Opened 21 September; runs until 17 November. [WMS]

Two Asian Map Exhibitions in the Netherlands

Two related map exhibitions are taking place right now in the Netherlands. Mapping Japan runs until 26 November at the Japan Museum SieboldHuis in Leiden. Its focus is on 18th- and 19th-century Japanese maps from the Leiden University Libraries’ collections. “The impressive scroll painting of the Japanese coast and the personal maps belonging to Philipp Franz van Siebold (on display for the first time) are unquestionably the highlights of this exhibition.” (Possessing those maps got Siebold in considerable trouble in Japan.) Also in Leiden, Mapping Asia runs until 14 January 2018 at the Museum Volkenkunde. Its focus is on the objectivity (or lack thereof) in cartography, and features maps of both European and Asian origin. One highlight is a digitally reconstructed map of the Chinese Empire. [WMS/WMS]

Boston Immigration Map Exhibition

Along with Regions and Seasons (previously), the Boston Public Library’s Leventhal Map Center is hosting another exhibition, Who We Are: Boston Immigration Then and Now, which runs until 26 August. “This exhibition compares the landscape of today’s ‘new’ Boston with that of over 100 years ago. The maps and graphics on display here show where Boston’s foreign-born residents originate from, and where newer immigrant groups have settled, while celebrating who we are, and the vibrant diversity that is Boston.” Text is in English, Spanish, Haitian Creole, Chinese and Vietnamese.

Exhibitions in the Northeast

A new exhibition at Harvard University’s Pusey Library, Manuscript Maps: Hand-Drawn Treasures of the Harvard Map Collection, “highlights the process of mapmaking by looking at maps drawn by hand.” Opened yesterday; runs until September 27.

Meanwhile, in Schenectady, New York, there’s another exhibition at Union College’s Kelly Adirondack Center: Parts But Little Known: Maps of the Adirondacks from 1556 runs until September 29.

Mapping in the Enlightenment

Mapping in the Enlightenment: Science, Innovation, and the Public Sphere, an exhibition at the University of Michigan’s William L. Clements Library, “uses examples from the Clements Library collection to tell the story of creating, distributing, and using maps during the long 18th century. Enlightenment thinking stimulated the effort to make more accurate maps, encouraged the growth of map collecting and map use by men and women in all social classes, and expanded the role of maps in administration and decision-making throughout Europe and her overseas colonies.” Fridays from 10 to 4 through October. [History of Cartography Project]

Map Art Exhibition in Mumbai

Gulammohammed Sheikh, The Mappamundi suite 7. Distant Destinations II, 2004. Digital collage, gouache on inkjet, 51 × 62 cm.

An exhibition of map-related art is taking place at the Sakshi Gallery in Mumbai, India. Curated by Meera Menezes, Here Be Dragons and Other Coded Landscapes features works by 11 artists; it runs until 31 May. More from the Hindustan Times. [Caitlin Dempsey]

Seeking Civilization: Map Art Exihibition in San Francisco

Miguel Angel Ríos, Le Premier Voyage à l’Inconnu, 1992-93. Cibachrome mounted on pleated canvas with pushpins, 160 × 320 cm.

Seeking Civilization: Art and Cartography, an exhibition at Gallery Wendi Norris in San Francisco, “offers a timely re-contextualization of cartographic narrative in contemporary art and dialogue. Including works ranging from deconstructed colonial maps to neon light installations documenting personal journeys in search of love, these artworks direct us towards new reflections on citizenship, power and nationhood.” Featuring art by Michael Arcega, Val Britton, Guillermo Galindo, Taraneh Hemami, Omar Mismar, Miguel Angel Ríos (above) and Adrien Segal, Seeking Civilization opened on 23 March and runs until 6 May. More at SF Weekly[Texas Map Society]

Greater Arizona: A Map Exhibition at Arizona State

Greater Arizona: Mapping Place, History and Transformation, an exhibition of maps from the Simon Burrow Map Collection at Arizona State University’s School of Transborder Studies that “highlights the different ways the region of Arizona has been conceptualized in a global context,” runs until 19 May at ASU’s Hayden Library. ASU Now: “Dating from the 16th to the 19th centuries, the maps document everything from peoples to borders to geographical features, and were created by a number of nations, including France, Great Britain and Holland—all that variation reveals portions of history that in some cases have been ignored.” [Tony Campbell/WMS]

Map Exhibitions Around the World

Mapping the Philippine Seas, an exhibition of 165 maps and sea charts of the Philippine archipelago from the 16th to the 19th century from the private collections of the Philippine Map Collectors Society. At the Metropolitan Museum of Manila. Opened 15 March, runs until 29 April. BusinessWorld. [WMS]

The Osher Map Library’s next exhibition, To Conquer or Submit? America Views the Great War, opens this Thursday (Facebook, Eventbrite). It “commemorates and explores American participation in the Great War—the ‘War to End All Wars’—with a sample of informative and propagandistic posters, maps, and atlases” from the Osher collections, which are based at the University of Southern Maine in Portland.

The World According to Blaeu: Joan Blaeu’s 1648 map of the world, more than two by three metres in size, will be on display at the National Maritime Museum in Amsterdam from 14 April to 31 December. [WMS]

Regions and Seasons

A new exhibition at the Boston Public Library’s Leventhal Map Center: Regions and Seasons: Mapping Climate Through History. “In this exhibition, you will discover how ‘Venti’ were wind personas who directed ancient ships and ‘Horae’ were goddesses of the seasons who dictated natural order during the 15th-17th centuries, how Enlightenment scientists started to collect and map weather data, and how 19th century geographers reflecting the golden age of thematic cartography created innovative techniques to represent vast amounts of statistical data and developed complex maps furthering our understanding of climatic regions.” Runs through August 27; also online.

Sweet Home: Alabama’s History in Maps

Sweet Home: Alabama’s History in Maps “is an exhibit presented by the Birmingham Public Library in celebration of Alabama’s bicentennial. The Library’s Southern History Department has carefully selected over 50 maps from our world class collection to tell the story of Alabama. The maps in this exhibit represent 450 years of exploration, expansion, and development.” It opens Wednesday and runs through the end of April; there’s also an online versionAlabama Newscenter. [Tony Campbell]