30 January 2014

Terra Incognita to Australia

Archipelagus Orientalis, sive Asiaticus by Johannes Blaeu (1659)
The National Library in Canberra is currently exhibiting a large and magnificent collection of some of the world's greatest and rarest maps under the title of "Mapping Our World: Terra Incognita to Australia."  The exhibit hosts treasures such as an eleventh-century Macrobius-style chart, a thirteenth-century Psalter map, and the fifteenth-century Fra Mauro map on the early end of the Age of Discovery, down to maps by explorers Captain James Cook and Matthew Flinders.  The exhibition, which is open until March 10, 2014, was opened in November 2013 by film star Russell Crowe, who exclaimed he was a "map geek."

Maps range from charts made by Australia's Aborigines, to sea charts, to great world maps showing Australia as blank conjectures.  Artifacts include chronometers, bowls from the Dutch East India Company, and mariner’s calipers.  Online extras for "Mapping Our World: Terra Incognita to Australia" include YouTube videos, podcasts, checklists, and interactive maps.

Head of maps at the British Library Peter Barber said: "You wouldn't get this exhibition in Europe because the institutions would never lend."  The National Library’s curator of maps, Martin Woods, gushed, "I don't know how much more excited I could be!"

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