The Beauty of Maps: Seeing Art in Cartography
What 13th-century astronomy has to do with the shape of the internet and the British Library.
By Maria Popova
We love maps. And we love data visualization, of which maps are among the earliest and most ubiquitous examples. As location continues to tickle the tips of trend analysts’ tongues and location-based applications take over the mobile landscape, it’s interesting — if not necessary — to understand the historical context of our relationship with location and geography.
That’s exactly what a new BBC series titled The Beauty of Maps: Seeing Art in Cartography explores.
The site features five of the world’s most beautiful historical maps, five of the most ambitious and fascinating digital ones available today, and video highlights that explore the stories and cultural contexts behind these maps. (While the video content may be restricted to people in the UK, we recently uncovered a nifty way to access blocked content on the web — and it includes a step-by-step guide to cracking the BBC iPlayer specifically.)
To further indulge your cartographic cravings, we recommend these excellent resources for historical cartography and vintage maps:
- This Wikipedia entry on early world maps is full of gems
- The Old Maps Flickr pool features nearly 1,800 19th- and 20th-century maps
- Strange Maps is still our favorite map destination — we reviewed their equally fantastic recent book here
- The Map Room is another finely curated blog about (mostly antique) maps
- If you live in or are visiting the UK between April 30 and September 19, be sure to check out the excellent Magnificent Maps: Power, Propaganda and Art exhibition at the British Library
- Ancient World Maps catalogs what the title promises
- Vintage Travel is a small but wonderful set of 14 state maps by Jacques Liozu
Know a great source of cartographic inspiration? Do share below.
Published April 23, 2010