Mapping Outside the Lines

Analyzing the visual language of maps.

Lines are the foundation of the visual language of maps. Take, for instance, the map on your phone that guides you between two places: one main line grabs your attention and encourages you to ignore the rest of the map. For centuries, mapmakers have experimented with the placement, density, and purpose of lines like these to make maps seem simple and objective. Just follow this line and you’ll have everything you need—or so the map leads you to believe. These lines are never as straightforward as they seem. This exhibition follows lines on maps to their extremes. By exploring how maps use lines to make the world legible, the exhibition will bring you through examples of mapmakers and artists who have created, bent, and broken these linear rules. By following these lines, you will find maps to be more complex and more motley than they ever imagined!


David Weimer, Robert A. Holland Curator of Maps and Director of the Hermon Dunlap Smith Center for the History of Cartography.

More About the Space

The Trienens galleries include an introductory gallery and a larger primary gallery. Exhibitions mounted there typically include 40-70 items from the Newberry's vast collections. Exhibitions in the Trienens galleries allow visitors to explore compelling themes and historical content in depth. Examples of past exhibitions include: Pop-Ups Through the Ages and Viva La Libertad. Click here to view a photo of the galleries.