Maps and views blog

Cartographic perspectives from our Map Librarians

23 posts categorized "Events"

17 June 2010

David Starkey and Peter Barber

A formidable double act indeed.

We now have a podcast of 'The Map in the Palace' event, recorded in our Conference Centre on 14 June.

The inimitable Dr David Starkey and Head of Maps Peter Barber discuss the importance of maps in medieval and early modern palaces, and how they combined art, science, and power to enhance their impact.

Warning! It lasts for 70 min 38 sec, so don't try to download it if you are on a slow internet connection.

(Or play it in your default media player.)

This link will take you to our Magnificent Maps podcast page

16 June 2010

The Maps in Context Symposium

A big thank you to everyone who attended the British Library academic symposium 'Maps in Context' on Monday afternoon. The event featured six papers which looked at the display and function of maps within their original settings. These included the Elizabethan Sheldon Tapestry maps (presented with some superb images by Hilary Turner), the political circumstances which motivated Fred Rose's Serio-comic Maps (Rod Barron), the crescent moon in European mapping (Lauren Beck), and the role of military maps of Scotland in the 18th century (Carolyn Anderson).

Another of the papers, by Genevieve Carlton, emphasised many of the problems which greet researchers looking into the display and reception of early maps, in Genevieve's case the 16th-century Venetian home. Inventories and lists of contents of these places are seldom so specific as to state implicitly the author, date, or subject of maps, and there is usually great ambiguity whether that discussed is a map at all. I know that this is something that affected Magnificent Maps, which was organised as far as possible upon documentary evidence for the types of maps selected.

We were treated to a perceptive evaluation of the modern map exhibition by Chris Perkins, who curated Mapping Manchester at the John Rylands Library last year. His compelling case for maps obtaining fresh histories from their modern display was based on visitor feedback, types of marketing and publicity, choice of exhibits, and reference to the present blog. Paranoid? I don't know what you mean!

The contextual approach to maps is very much a theme of the exhibition, and of the study of maps in general since the 1980s, the History of Cartography series, conceived by Brian Harley and David Woodward, advocated a social and cultural history of mapping. One of the aims of the symposium was to suggest that whereas map historians place maps within their contexts, historians in other fields could do worse than develop their contexts with the aid of maps.

07 May 2010

Magnificent Map of King’s Cross

The Magnificent Map of King’s Cross now hangs in the Entrance Hall.


This map of the local area was produced as part of the community programme to support the exhibition and as part of the Reveal Festival – a festival of visual arts in King’s Cross.


It is made of 16 separate canvases each depicting a separate part of the area. A number of groups and some individuals were given a canvas to create their unique interpretation of the neighbourhood.


The map includes work by The London Canal Museum, Camley Street Natural Park, University College Hospital School and Somers Town Youth Club.

A week of map events

Last Friday's late event at the Library was suitably lively. I hope that everybody enjoyed the eclectic combo of music and maps. Unfortunately, as I discovered beginning the first of my three guided tours of the exhibition that evening, a lone voice versus a full electric ensemble is not a winnable war. Thankfully the gallery itself was rather quieter, albeit in a busy, jostly way. 

50 minutes, as I found out, is not long enough to fully take in Magnificent Maps. I don't think we looked at even 20 percent of the maps. Yet the collective opulence of the settings we've created and the maps contained therein is something that can be appreciated in a fairly speedy walk-through, and so hopefully Magnificent Maps will appeal to visitors with either 15 minutes or the whole afternoon to kill. I hoarsely completed my final tour at half ten and headed for home, sleep and relatively map-less dreams.

Though I popped into the Library on Sunday, I was unable to stay for the tour of the St Pancras area by Mike Berlin of Birkbeck College, as part of the Reveal King's Cross Festival. I've heard Mike speak before, and I'm sure his energism and great knowledge will have rendered the bad weather a minor inconvenience.

Unfortunately, I shall also be missing Jerry Brotton's talk at the British Library this evening. Tomorrow very early I'll be heading over to Cornwall for a few days of recouperation, smuggling etc. And what's the betting  the hotel I'm staying at will have an old map of Cornwall hanging in the reception?

Maps and views blog recent posts



Other British Library blogs