Map makers have the unique ability to collapse both time and space in their works. Mapping the Past explores what mapping means both in the technical sense and in the metaphorical sense, looking beyond pure cartography for deeper meaning.
Most of the works collected here, which were recently gifted to the Museum by Thomas J. Cooney, date to the 17th century. As new scientific understanding developed at that time, cartographers were intent on accurately depicting the known world by applying theories of the physical universe.
Although mathematical and scientific accuracy were important to map makers, because their works were also highly sought after by armchair travelers who longed to know and understand other cultures, maps also revealed significant biases of the time. The relatively recent discovery of the Americas, as well as expanded contact with the cultures of the East, greatly increased public interest in distant lands.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website