The Thomas Sharp map of Oxford. Photo courtesy of the Bodleian Libraries

  The Thomas Sharp map of Oxford. Photo courtesy of the Bodleian Libraries

Improving access to the Bodleian's historic map collection

An appeal for the Bodleian Libraries’ map collection raised over £37,000 for new acquisitions and curatorial projects such as restoration and digitisation, which will improve access to the collection for research and scholarship.

Nick Millea, Map Librarian at the Bodleian, says: ‘The maps appeal has brought in funds which, to date, have enabled us to buy a protective cover for a 1492 facsimile globe which we can now display in the reading room. We have also purchased a set of quirky Brexit maps created by a local artist as well as a wonderful Victorian map of British lighthouses. In addition, we have boxed nine volumes of previously unprotected 19th-century sea charts. None of this would have been possible beforehand.’

Treasures from the map collection can be viewed at the Bodleian’s current Talking Maps exhibition in the Weston Library. The exhibition, which has been made possible by support from a number of major donors, runs until March 2020 and celebrates the role of maps in the places they depict and the people who make and use them. Drawing on the Bodleian’s unparalleled collection of more than 1.3 million maps, it brings together an extraordinary selection of ancient, pre-modern and contemporary maps from a range of cultures and in a variety of formats, as well as showcasing fascinating imaginary, fictional and war maps.

Highlights include the Gough Map, the earliest surviving map showing Great Britain in a recognisable form; the Elizabethan Sheldon Tapestry Map of Gloucestershire; a late Ming map of the South China Sea; and fictional maps by C S Lewis and J R R Tolkien.


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