Preserve a one-of-a-kind world map
A Map Big Enough for Texas
Join us on the next journey of an extraordinary 17th-century world map housed at the Harry Ransom Center in Austin, Texas. Help set the course of this amazing project as conservators preserve a Texas-sized artifact, revealing new discoveries about its production and significance. Your gift will help visitors and researchers in Texas and around the world explore this incredible record of human creativity.
THE NEED: Preserve a one-of-a-kind map
Measuring nearly 10 feet wide and 7 feet tall, the map is striking in its size, imagery, and detailed decoration. Titled Nova totius terrarum orbis tabula, it is known as the Blaeu World Map and was created by Dutch cartographer Joan Blaeu in 1648.
Acquired by the Center in 1969, this magnificent map has been too fragile to display, until now. A team of experts will deploy specialized techniques to conserve and stabilize the map. In addition to treating the map for long-term preservation, the project team plans to present the map and new information during a future exhibition at the Center.
You can help us preserve this stunning map and share it with the public for the first time by giving today.
THE PROJECT: Navigate with us
As part of the process of conserving this remarkable map for future generations, this project will involve research about how the map was printed, assembled, and decorated, as well as the broader cultural context in which it and other maps of its kind first circulated.
There are only three surviving versions of the 1648 Nova Totius terrarium orbis tabula. Texas’ map is unique in its design and use of pigments, and is the only one outside of Europe and Asia. Through application of X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy, polarizing light microscopy, and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy and high-performance liquid chromatography, the team will identify pigments, binders, adhesives, and fibers used to create this exceptional artifact.
In consultation with map scholars and curators, we can pair this material knowledge with research on the history of cartography and the social and economic roles that a wall map of this size played. With your help, we can preserve this irreplaceable world treasure while promoting its study.
Put yourself on the map today with your contribution, and plot the next course of the great Blaeu Map’s journey.
THE GOAL: Inspire generations of Texans
By researching and analyzing the materials that make up the map, making it accessible for viewing, stabilizing its structure, and framing it for long-term storage and display, Texas can strengthen its legacy as a destination for researchers and visitors to see one-of-a-kind artifacts like this map. Your support will enable the conservation and groundbreaking research of this epic piece of history while also sharing the Blaeu Map through a future exhibition.
Harry Ransom Center, an internationally renowned humanities research center at The University of Texas at Austin. Through our extensive collections, we strive to provide unique insight into the creative process of some of our finest writers and artists, deepening the understanding and appreciation of literature, photography, film, art, and the performing arts. The collections include nearly 1 million books, more than 42 million manuscripts, 5 million photographs, and 100,000 works of art.
Header image: Joan Blaeu, Nova totius terrarum orbis tabula (Amsterdam: Joan Blaeu, 1648)