Ever since man took charcoal to a cave wall, maps have existed. They inform the mind, record the way, and delight the eye. Like any document or artifact, maps cast light on the culture from which they originate: how the information is gathered and transmitted; how it is put on paper; who the major players are; what the obvious and hidden agendas might be. Maps elicit feelings of discovery, adventure, skill, intrigue, and enlightenment.
The maps of Europe's Age of Discovery of the Western Hemisphere offer a natural path for our story of New Netherland: the path from the unknown to the known, from speculation to fact. In the beginning the view was broad and ill defined; the path was the hoped for access to the Far East. The blossoming Golden Age of the Netherlands fueled exploration, territorial claims, and colonization. Maps recorded the whats, hows and whys. They also tell the story of the people involved: sea captains, map makers, map owners and all the powers which sought information from maps.
Today information is valued as the path to success. So it has always been.
Developed by Charles W. Wendell, Ph.D., a NNI trustee and formerly its president.
Online production by Steve McErleane.
Special thanks to Robert Augustyn of Martayan Lan, New York, NY, for advising on the exhibit and providing map images.