29 April 2010
Photos by my colleague Dave Dubuisson as promised. Some of the exhibits are very large and present quite a challenge.
Finally a preview of one of the 'interactives' that allow you to examine four maps in detail. Although it's designed to look like a magnifying glass, it isn't. It's much more complicated! When you visit the exhibition (from tomorrow) you'll be able to see how it works.
On the website - now live - you can use our adapted zoomify tool to get a similar experience. Zoom in close and read our curators' notes about some of the details.
28 April 2010
'Is this the end or the beginning?' I have been asking myself today, while the final pieces of our cartographic puzzle fall into place. A big question but unusually (as far as big questions go) one with a clear definite answer: we are most certainly about to begin. This past week has seen Magnificent Maps become fully formed, with maps arriving daily from the conservation studios and being placed on walls. Thanks to our team of conservators and, once again, to our expert exhibitions staff.
Of special excitement this week has been the arrival of the nine loan maps from the extremely generous lenders. I was especially pleased to see the colossal de' Barbari map of Venice from 1500, lent by our friends the British Museum, when I popped down to the gallery one morning. In fact, I liken the effect to running downstairs to the letterbox one morning back in the mid-1980s and seeing my first Beano lying on the doormat. Other incredible objects are Middle Temple Library's Molyneux globes of 1592 - the first English, and at the time largest globes in existence, and the medieval Evesham World map. Today saw the installation of the earliest map in the exhibition, a fragment of the Forma Urbis Romae, part of a colossal map of Rome dating to 200 AD. I can say with absolute sincerity that no reproduction in any book can compare with the effect of seeing the original.
Dave has been diligently taking footage of these and other maps (such as the Klencke Atlas) being installed, and you'll be seeing some highlights here in due course.
Peter and I have been giving a number of interviews to press, radio and television reporters, which looks set to continue tomorrow with the official press view of the exhibition. A recent highlight is The Guardian's art correspondent Jonathan Jones's typically perceptive piece last Saturday, while the first exhibition review appears in today's Times Online. There has been similary good feedback from British Library colleagues who accompanied Peter and myself on a number of preliminary tours today. Now although they are all extremely polite people, I am sure that their complimentary comments were not borne purely out of politeness. It is nearly time for you to make up your own mind.
26 April 2010
The British Library's PACCAR Gallery has been a hive of activity these past three weeks, as Magnificent Maps takes shape. In an atmosphere of calm chaos (or chaotic calm, not sure which), contractors, conservators, technicians and the quite brilliant exhibitions team have brought to life something that has hitherto existed only on paper.
And as for me, I've been mostly getting in people's way, wandering aimlessly through the gallery with a big grin on my face. It is looking good. A few images will show you what I mean. Below: the 'Gallery' section of the exhibition at the start of the week, our own Renaissance Palace taking shape. It must be one of the few times that the entire height of the exhibition space has been used. Wait 'til you see the finished room.
Most excitingly of all, the loan items have been arriving in the gallery. Of which more later.