For months, you haven’t been able to see much beyond the yellow caution tape draped across the stairway leading to the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center at the Boston Public Library (BPL). But, that all changes today, as the doors swing wide at 11am for an opening ceremony.
We were given a sneak preview, earlier this week.
Beyond a 3-foot diameter world globe and intriguing 18th Century map of Boston at the front entrance, you’re greeted by a new exhibition area. It’s an impressive space with a high, slightly arched ceiling stretching over ever-changing displays. Here, the public will be able to see more of the Map Center's vast collection of maps and atlases.
While these historical treasures reflect the world from the 15th century to the present, particular attention is given to Boston, Massachusetts, and New England.
As a partnership between the BPL and Leventhal, the map center is meant for the enjoyment and education of all, including a Kids Map Club cleverly located in the main room’s window nooks.
Look for the atlas under glass. Each day the staff will turn to a new page. And, its "Virtual Atlas" counterpart, on the inteactive monitor in front, allows you to explore the entire volume.
The Map Center also supports a website that offering more than 3,600 digitized maps at maps.bpl.org.
This state-of-the-art space features new climate control storage for thousands of maps and atlases. Beyond the glass doors in the photo below is a research and teaching area that will be opened and staffed on a separate schedule, and a reading room for rare map research.
You may visit the Map Center’s exhibition space whenever the Central Library in Copley Square is open. The current presentations feature Leventhal Map Center Treasures along with Unconventional Maps: Exploring the Stories of Cartographic Curiosities.
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Words: Ed & Penny Cherubino
Photography: © 2011 Penny & Ed Cherubino
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