News / Toronto

Reference Library unveils the Art of Cartography exhibit

From sea charts and city plans to atlases and celestial depictions, the library is showing the “unexpected beauty” of maps from the 16th to the 19th centuries.

A map titled Toletum, Georg Braun, from 1566.  The Toronto Public Library is highlighting its collection of centuries-old maps in a new exhibition, "The Art of Cartography.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/ HO, Toronto Public Library

A map titled Toletum, Georg Braun, from 1566. The Toronto Public Library is highlighting its collection of centuries-old maps in a new exhibition, "The Art of Cartography.

TORONTO - The Toronto Public Library is highlighting its collection of centuries-old maps in a new exhibition, “The Art of Cartography.”

Some 50 items are on display - from sea charts and city plans to atlases and celestial depictions - showcasing the “unexpected beauty” of maps dating from the 16th to the 19th centuries, the library says.

A new and most exact map of America, Nicolaes Visscher, 1668

THE CANADIAN PRESS/ HO, Toronto Public Library

A new and most exact map of America, Nicolaes Visscher, 1668

Along with reality - or attempts in that direction - the maps reveal a considerable amount of fantasy when it came to portraying unknown parts of the world.

A 1613 depiction of the North Pole by the renowned cartographer Gerhard Mercator shows a black rock at the top of the globe surrounded by a whirlpool and river rapids.

A 1592 map of Iceland reveals a variety of strange sea monsters frolicking in the waves around the island.

“I think even those people who think that they are not interested in maps will be truly amazed and delighted by these extraordinary and exquisite works,” Joanna Morrison, a librarian with the Toronto Reference Library's special collections department, told Canadian Geographic magazine.

The exhibit, sponsored by the Royal Canadian Geographical Society, runs Aug. 13 to Oct. 16 in the TD Gallery at the Toronto Reference Library at 789 Yonge St.

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