Charting an Empire: The Atlantic Neptune
Central Library, Copley Square (Norman B. Leventhal Map Center)
May 1 - November 3, 2013
The period following the French and Indian War (1754-1763) was a time of change and discovery in North America. In this display of charts, views, and maritime objects, we look at the decade following the war, when Britain set out to accurately chart the coast and survey the inland areas of their new resource-rich empire in Atlantic Canada, as well as the eastern seaboard extending from New England to the West Indies. The resulting charts were published collectively by Joseph Frederick Wallet Des Barres in The Atlantic Neptune, a maritime atlas which set the standard for nautical charting for nearly half a century. Using nearly 30 items, including nautical charts, navigational instruments, and ship models dating from the 18th century to the present, this exhibition examines the importance of accurate charting of the new empire, defines how Britain put her mark on the land, and explores the complex processes of marine surveying and nautical chart production.