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Maritime Museum Exhibit Explores the History of Pacific Coast Mapping from 1544 to 1802


Top: This 1656 map, which depicts California as an island, was widely studied and copied in Europe. Photo courtesy of Mapping the Pacific Coast exhibit.  Bottom:  The white, many-windowed Maritime Museum viewed from the deck of the historic sailing ship Balaclutha. Photo by Bob Janiskee.

The Mapping The Pacific Coast: Coronado to Lewis and Clark exhibit that opens in July at the Maritime Museum in San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park displays nearly four dozen rare objects associated with the early exploration and documentation of North America's Pacific Coast.

This remarkable exhibit, the property of Holly and Henry Wendt, will run from July 1 to October 31, 2011. It showcases 45 rare maps, books and illustrations from the Wendt's Quivara Collection dealing with Pacific Coast exploration and mapping during the period 1544 through 1802.  Acquired over a period of more than 40 years, the woodcuts, copperplate engravings, hand colored maps and other materials in the Wendts' Quivara Collection show the accumulation of spatial knowledge about the Pacific Coast that began with Coronado's visit, included many dangerous voyages by Spanish, French, English and Russian explorers, and led up to Thomas Jefferson's commissioning of Lewis and Clark’s Corps of Discovery.

In a broader context, the maps in this exhibit span the transition from the European Renaissance to the Age of Enlightenment, beginning at a time when America's west coast was so remote from European population centers that it could be said to occupy the very edge of the world.

To enhance the exhibit, map collector-historian Henry Wendt narrates an audio tour of selected maps.  A beautifully printed and illustrated catalog documents and further describes each map and document.

There could scarcely be a more appropriate venue for this world-class exhibit. The Maritime Museum, which is ensconced in a historic bathhouse in the park's Aquatic Park Historic District, houses a treasure trove of 35,000 objects, including practical items from the everyday lives of people making their living at sea, large parts from rescued sailing vessels, fine art, and other tangible links to the maritime past. The museum operates in connection with the park's Maritime Library (housed at nearby Fort Mason Center), which contains a huge collection of books, periodicals, maps and charts, architectural drawings, photos, motion pictures, oral histories, and other objects focused on the maritime history of North America's Pacific Coast.

For more information about this exhibit, the park, and other public programs offered there, call 415-447-5000 or visit the park’s website.


This looks like something worth visiting. Thanks for the write-up!

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