The Library launches a major rare maps exhibition

Friday 12 November 2021

The Tasman Map, one of the State Library’s most irreplaceable objects, underwent a 380-hour operation to look as good as it did over 300 years ago for its first public outing in 10 years.

Abel Tasman’s hand-drawn 1642-44 map joins close to 100 rare and priceless maps, charts, atlases and globes in the State Library’s major new exhibition, Maps of the Pacific, 1500-1860, opening this Saturday 13 November.

According to State Librarian John Vallance: “12 months of intense conservation work - with state-of-the-art techniques never attempted before at the Library - went into preparing the Tasman map for exhibition. The work revealed previously obscured details which were hidden under a thick layer of yellow varnish.”

“After a few false starts due to Covid, at long last we can welcome visitors to our Maps of the Pacific exhibition and show off some of the largest and most spectacular objects in the Library’s important collection of maps.”

This major exhibition invites visitors to explore the beauty, art and science of mapping across three centuries.

“On a deeper level, the exhibition gets us thinking in unexpected ways about how we got here and why,” added Dr Vallance. Curator Maggie Patton said: “While this exhibition traces the European mapping of the Pacific using western viewpoints and cartographic traditions, the Library acknowledges that Pacific First Nations people navigated the Pacific using their shared knowledge of ocean paths, prevailing winds and rising stars for millennia."

“The exhibition gave us an opportunity to display items never or rarely placed on display, as well as important items from private and public collections, including a Marshalls Islands stick chart on loan from the National Library of Australia. You'll be amazed." 

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