Literary Landscapes: Maps from Fiction Exhibition opens February 2
January 26, 2016
The exhibition Literary Landscapes: Maps from Fiction opens at the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center at the Boston Public Library on Monday, February 2, and runs through October 25. The exhibition, curated by Stephanie Cyr and Lauren Chen, examines the many types of maps that accompany works of fiction and features items from the 16thcentury to the present day.
“Literary Landscapes is for readers and map lovers of all ages and stages,” said Stephanie Cyr. “The collection of maps and books in the exhibition offers a creative and fun look into the relationship between literature and placemaking.”
In this exhibition of 40 items, visitors will discover maps from a variety of fictional genres, learn how authors create imaginary worlds, and appreciate why descriptive geography is essential to a story. People and creatures, even those who exist only in tales, are related to place, and maps of their imaginary worlds allow readers to be transported into the geography of fantasy. Maps of imaginary places have accompanied literature for centuries, as visualizing the fanciful worlds described in works of fiction sets the stage for events taking place in a story and often provides insight into the characters themselves.
The exhibition examines maps from geographical fiction, which often combine elements from the natural and cultural world. Maps from stories which take place in the “real” world, like the mysteries of Sherlock Holmes, are included, along with those from works of action and adventure. In addition, the visitor will encounter maps of locations to which characters travel in works of fantasy, such as Neverland from Peter Pan and the Lands Beyond from The Phantom Tollbooth.
Maps from children’s tales include an exceptional panoramic map focusing on fairy stories. Maps of alternate worlds featured in works of high fantasy are included, as well as those illustrating lands in dystopian futures and maps created to convey moral convictions. Visitors will encounter lands from the Lord of the Rings trilogy by J. R. R. Tolkien, Game of Thrones series by George R. R. Martin, and a map of Panem based on Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games.
The Leventhal Map Center is located in the Central Library in Copley Square, 700 Boylston Street. It is open Monday – Thursday: 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.; Friday and Saturday: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.; and Sunday: 1– 5 p.m. The best entrance to use is the Dartmouth Street entrance via the McKim building, which faces Copley Square.
About the NORMAN B. LEVENTHAL MAP CENTER
The Norman B. Leventhal Map Center is ranked among the top 10 map centers in the United States for the size of its collection, the significance of its historic (pre-1900) material, and its advanced digitization program. It is unique among the major collections because it also combines these features with exceptional educational and teacher training programs to advance geographic literacy among students in grades K-12 and enhance the teaching of subjects from history to mathematics to language arts. The collection is also the second largest in the country located in a public library, ensuring unlimited access to these invaluable resources for scholars, educators, and the general public. The Leventhal Map Center, created in 2004, is a nonprofit organization established as a public-private partnership between the Boston Public Library and philanthropist Norman Leventhal. Its mission is to use the Boston Public Library’s permanent collection of 200,000 maps and 5,000 atlases and a select group of rare maps collected by Mr. Leventhal for the enjoyment and education of all through exhibitions, educational programs, and a website that includes thousands of digitized maps at maps.bpl.org. The map collection is global in scope, dating from the 15th century to the present, with a particular strength in maps and atlases of Boston, Massachusetts, and New England.
About BOSTON PUBLIC LIBRARY
Boston Public Library has a Central Library, twenty-four branches, map center, business library, and a website filled with digital content and services. Established in 1848, the Boston Public Library has pioneered public library service in America. It was the first large free municipal library in the United States, the first public library to lend books, the first to have a branch library, and the first to have a children’s room. Each year, the Boston Public Library hosts thousands of programs and serves millions of people. All of its programs and exhibitions are free and open to the public. At the Boston Public Library, books are just the beginning. To learn more, visit bpl.org.
Image: Detail from An Anciente Mappe of Fairyland Newly Discovered and Set Forth by Bernard Sleigh. London, 1917.