Maps and the 20th Century: Drawing the Line
4 November 2016 – 1 March 2017
Exploring how maps made the world in which we live.
In the age of advanced mapping technology, street view and handheld GPS location tracking, it has become easier to map our every move and more difficult to disappear. This exhibition explores the history of the 20th century through maps, drawing on powerful examples from the British Library’s cartography collections. It includes exhibits ranging from the first map of the Hundred Acre Wood to spy maps.
The exhibition also charts how maps left the hands of the few and became everyday objects for the first time in the 20th century. From the London A-Z, created out of a need for newcomers to navigate the city conveniently thanks to a wave of mass immigration in the early 20th century, to lesser-known political pocket atlases like the ‘Plebs Atlas’.
Ministry of Defence maps are on public display for the first time. The maps were used as part of official college exams in the 1950s and 1960s. They show fictional scenarios such as a nuclear explosion fall-out in Scotland and southern England reimagined as a battlefield, reflecting the political uncertainties of the 20th century.