AGSL Contributes to Extraordinary Field Museum Show (and Other Midwestern Exhibitions)
In addition to its own busy schedule of exhibits and displays, the American Geographical Society Library has been experiencing unprecedented demand for its materials for use in exhibits elsewhere. The impetus for some of this activity is the 2007 "Festival of Maps" being held in Chicago.
This is being driven by what all indications will be the great map exhibit of the century, "Maps: Finding Our Place in the World," at the Field Museum, opening in November. The greatest cartographic treasures from around the world will be on display, and joining them will be three maps from the AGSL:
- A unique manuscript map (c. 1910) of the Belcher Islands in Hudson Bay, hand drawn by Wetalltok, an Inuit, and given to Robert J. Flaherty, who created the film Nanook of the North (1922). The map, drawn from memory on the back of a missionary lithograph, was the most accurate map of those islands then extant.
- A chart showing the world distribution of whales, produced by Matthew Fontaine Maury in 1851. Maury, the founder of the U.S. Oceanographic Office and an early member of the American Geographical Society, was a prolific producer of pilot and wind and navigation charts in the last decade before the Civil War.
- And (AGSL's main contribution) the Mappamundi, or circular map of the known world, produced in 1452 by the Venetian cartographer, Giovanni Leardo, the only medieval manuscript wall map located in the Western Hemisphere. This map, drawn on the eve of the age of discovery, shows the world consisting of only Europe, Asia and Africa.
Following the showing at the Field, the exhibit will travel to the Walters Museum in Baltimore, Maryland.
Other "Festival of Maps" exhibits, to which the AGSL has contributed or will be doing so, are the DePaul University Museum's "Imperial Cartographies: Power, Strategy and Scientific Discovery" (January 11-March 18, 2007), 16 maps; and an exhibit at the Newberry Library, beginning in November, to coincide with the Field exhibit.
The map being sent to the Newberry is the unique "Fremont-Smith-Gibbs" map: a proof copy of the printed J.C. Fr�mont map of the West, copiously annotated by George Gibbs with the geographical knowledge of Jedediah Smith, the famous mountain man.
Also, twenty-eight maps, from 1670 to the present, have been loaned to the UW-Madison Aquatic Sciences Center/Sea Grant Institute, for use in an exhibit in the Special Collections department of Memorial Library. Running from March to June 2007, the exhibit is entitled "Making Maps, Mapping History: 300 years of Original Maps of Wisconsin and the Great Lakes Region."
Finally, following on the success of the Milwaukee Art Museum's recent exhibit, "The American West, 1871-1874: Photographs from the American Geographical Society Library," the Museum has decided to mount a new exhibit featuring AGSL photographs and maps of polar regions.
AGSL's many years of involvement with polar explorers and exploration has provided the Library with a wealth of distinctive material. The exhibit is scheduled to run September 13-December 16, 2007.
Map of New France by Vincenzo Coronelli, 1688; in the exhibit "Making Maps, Mapping History: 300 years of Original Maps of Wisconsin and the Great Lakes Region."
Centenarian Donates World Travel Photos
Bret Sears and his wife Elsbeth, well-known Milwaukee musicians and teachers, have donated their collection of 16,500 travel slides to the American Geographical Society Library (AGSL). The Sears, who traveled extensively throughout the world, have given some 60 travelogues over the years, each comprising approximately 350 slides.
The couple are lifelong East Side residents and now live at St. John's on the Lake. Bret gave his final presentation, on Paris, his favorite city, last year on his 100th birthday.
"Mr. Sears's photographic eye seems to be every bit as acute as his musical ear," said AGSL Curator Chris Baruth, "and we are pleased to have his slides." He added that the AGSL, which is developing a program for archiving and making available historic place-oriented photography, is an excellent repository for such thorough, well-documented collections.