Maps Unfolded

Maps Unfolded takes you through seven centuries of maps and atlases, dating from 15th-century drawings to the maps of the future. The exhibition starts in Amsterdam with a unique big city plan from 1625 full of small details, and zooms out, via the Netherlands and Europe, to encompass the whole world. Special attention is given to maps of the former Dutch East Indies, Suriname and the Antilles.

Most of the maps in the exhibition were made in Amsterdam. Nowhere else were such accurate and beautiful maps made as they were on Kalverstraat and Damrak, where Frederick de Wit, Willem and Joan Blaeu and others had their studios. In the exhibition you learn all sorts of things about mapmaking. You discover that behind every map there is a story. Old and more recent maps attest to colonial relationships, geographical developments, the Dutch interaction with water, and changing borders.

Each room highlights one of the maps for visitors to examine. A separate room is devoted to the very latest cartographic techniques, a collaboration with the Amsterdam technology company TomTom.

All maps, including works by Blaeu, Ortelius, Ptolemaeus and Bos, are part of the cartography collection held at the Allard Pierson, one of the most important in Europe.  Many of the maps are on long-term loan from the Royal Dutch Geographical Society (KNAG), which celebrates its 150th anniversary in March.

Reflections on Maps Unfolded

Various contemporary artists find inspiration in the phenomenon of maps. The accompanying exhibition ‘Reflections on Maps Unfolded’ features works by Gert Jan Kocken (1971), Remy Jungerman (1959), Jan Rothuizen (1968) and Qiu Zhijie (1969). Remy Jungerman made a work, specially for the exhibition, in which he reflects on the map by Alexander Lavaux, an extensive and highly detailed survey of Suriname from 1737.

Would you like to know more about the city plan from 1625?

Berckenrode Map

Maps Unfolded has been made possible by: Koninklijk Nederlands Aardrijkskundig Genootschap, TomTom, Noordhoff, Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds, Stichting Kramer/Lems, Jansonius Fonds, Amsterdams Universiteitsfonds, Hendrik Muller Fonds, Janivo Stichting, M.O.A.C. Gravin van Bylandt Stichting.