Our latest exhibit, Art of War: Illustrated and Military Maps of the Twentieth Century, is now on display on the 1st floor of Falvey Library and in select cases at the Prince Family Veterans Resource Center. Both locations feature a selection of two types of imagery: maps that are illustrated, highly pictorial, and created for public distribution; and topographic maps that have been created by government war offices for use in military conflict. The juxtaposition forces a close analysis of the very nature of maps. Often assumed as truthful and accurate, maps lead and guide the way, provide direction, and help us make decisions. Yet as with anything that is human-made there are things to consider – the knowledge or bias of the creator, the intended audience, the purpose of the document.
These examples, largely drawn from the John F. Smith, III and Susan B. Smith Antique Map Collection, explore major conflicts of the twentieth century and emphasize the inherently ephemeral quality of maps. These maps have urgency and are very much “of the moment” – whether they are illustrating a political viewpoint or guiding military forces – they compel us to consider the control, reliability, and availability of wartime information.
The exhibit was co-curated by Rebecca Oviedo, Distinctive Collections Archivist, and Christoforos Sassaris, Distinctive Collections Coordinator, with graphics created by Joanne Quinn, Director of Communication and Marketing. Stay tuned for more information on a coordinating event and reception, to be held later this fall during the week of Veteran’s Day.