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Find out how maps and visual data have been used for centuries to manipulate information and truth in BENDING LINES: Maps and Data from Distortion to Deception, a free online exhibition by the Norman B. Leventhal Map & Education Center at the Boston Public Library.

Viewers are invited to explore the online show and listen to Angles on Bending Lines: Curator Conversations, a series of interactive events hosted by Leventhal Center’s Curator of Maps and Director of Geographic Scholarship Garrett Dash Nelson, and featuring guests who give context to the exhibition’s themes and content. All talks are available on the Leventhal Center’s YouTube channel.

Watch Previous Talks

Wednesday, May 27, 1pm
“Same Data, Different Stories”

Curator Garrett Dash Nelson talks with guest Maggie Owens, Principal Research Analyst and Planner for the City of Boston Parks and Recreation Department, and the creator of one of the “Data Stories” maps commissioned for the exhibition.

“Data Stories” is a collaborative exhibition component that was commissioned by the Leventhal Center to bring the show’s theme into a contemporary context. Geographic datasets about Massachusetts were offered to high-profile cartographers and data designers around the country, each of whom agreed to develop two competing but equally persuasive cartographic narratives. Using design tools and Geographic Information System (GIS) mapping, the cartographers created maps and data visualizations; the resulting work underscores how mapmakers’ perspectives influence the products they make.

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Wednesday, June 3, 1pm
“Twisted Data: Gerrymandering, GIS, and Visual Information”

Curator Garrett Dash Nelson talks with Alasdair Rae, Professorial Fellow in Urban Studies and Planning at The University of Sheffield (UK), who created a chart of gerrymandered congressional districts featured in the exhibition.

Alasdair Rae is a Professorial Fellow in Urban Studies and Planning at the University of Sheffield. His work focuses on the manipulation, analysis and visualisation of large geographic datasets in relation to urban planning, transport, policy and land issues. More generally, he is a proponent of open data and in his work seeks to make use of the wide range of new datasets that have become available in recent years to advance knowledge in policy-relevant areas. His work has appeared in a variety of media outlets, including The Economist, Huffington Post, CityMetric, WIRED, The Guardian, The Royal Statistical Society magazine and the BBC. He tweets at @undertheraedar and blogs at www.statsmapsnpix.com.

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Wednesday, June 10, 1pm
“Persuasive Cartography

Curator Garrett Dash Nelson welcomes guest Judith Tyner, Professor Emerita of Geography at California State University, Long Beach. Tyner coined the term that gives this segment its title; she will discuss how maps are used to influence opinions and beliefs.

Judith Tyner is Professor Emerita at California State University Long Beach.   She taught in the Geography Department over 35 years, where she served as Department Chair for six years and was Director Of the Cartography/GIS Certificate Program from its inception until her retirement.  While at CSULB, Dr Tyner taught beginning and advanced cartography, map reading and interpretation, remote sensing, and history of cartography.  She is a member of the Association of American Geographers, the North American Cartographic Information Society, the California Map Society, and the Society of Woman Geographers.  She is the author of four textbooks on map design and map reading, including Principles of Map Design and The World of Maps:  Map Reading and Interpretation for the 21st century.  She is also the author of two scholarly books, Stitching the World and Women in American Cartography and over 40 scholarly articles.

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Friday, June 12, 2020, 1pm
“Bending Lines – Exhibition Tour for Educators

“Maps, truth and belief have a complicated relationship with one another.”

Whether you are teaching young students the essentials of reading maps or helping high school students understand the role of data in their lives, Bending Lines: Maps and Date from Distortion to Deception, a new exhibition from the Norman B. Leventhal Map and Education Center, has something to offer you.

Explore selected maps during an education tour with Michelle LeBlanc, Director of Education which emphasize major themes and ideas for talking about maps in the classroom. Learn how to access two new lessons, one that focuses on teaching about map projections and a second that explores how maps and data can be used to tell different stories about kids in Boston.

This tour is open to all, but will focus on opportunities for educators to use Bending Lines exhibition materials in their classrooms. Online meeting details will be shared with registered participants.

Watch on YouTube

Wednesday, June 17, 1pm
“What You See is What You Get – Or Is It?”

Curator Garrett Dash Nelson leads a lively discussion with map collector and researcher PJ Mode, whose love for old and unusual maps of the world led to a fascination with unconventional maps whose purpose is not fact-based, but more persuasive.

PJ Mode grew up in Indiana and graduated from Cornell University with a concentration in what would today be called computer science. He then spent three years on active duty as a naval officer, then attended the Harvard Law School. Mode worked for the Washington law firm then called Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering (now Wilmer Hale), where he spent most of the next 35 years followed by a position as Special Counsel to Citigroup for another decade.

A student and collector of old maps since 1980, he now focuses on researching and collecting “persuasive cartography,” maps intended primarily to influence opinions or beliefs – to send a message – rather than to communicate geographic information. His collection lives at Cornell University, and Mode’s website at persuasivemaps.library.cornell.edu describes the subject and the collection, with links to high-resolution images and detailed notes on over 800 maps.

Watch on YouTube

This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services grant number MA-10-19-0400-19.

Future exhibitions have not yet been scheduled. Sign up for our email list to be notified of future exhibitions.

America Transformed: Mapping the 19th Century
May 4, 2019 – May 10, 2020
Crossing Boundaries: Art // Maps
October 9, 2018 – April 20, 2019
Breathing Room: Mapping Boston’s Green Spaces
March 24, 2018 – September 30, 2018
Beneath Our Feet: Mapping the World Below
September 29, 2017 – March 18, 2018
Who We Are: Boston Immigration Then and Now
May 24, 2017 – October 31, 2017
Regions and Seasons: Mapping Climate through History
March 4, 2017 – September 24, 2017
Shakespeare’s Here and Everywhere September 3, 2016
February 16, 2017
Hy-Brasil: Mapping a Mythical Island June 29, 2016
October 23, 2016
From the Sea to the Mountains
April 2, 2016 – August 28, 2016
Women in Cartography: Five Centuries of Accomplishments
October 31, 2015 – March 26, 2016
We Are One: Mapping America’s Road from Revolution to Independence
May 2, 2015 – November 29, 2015
Literary Landscapes: Maps from Fiction
February 2, 2015 – October 25, 2015
Back to School: Geography in the Classroom
September 2, 2014 – January 25, 2015
City of Neighborhoods: The Changing Face of Boston
March 22, 2014 – August 22, 2014
Made in Boston
November 8, 2013 – March 17, 2014
Charting an Empire: The Atlantic Neptune
May 1, 2013 – November 3, 2013
Boston in the Gilded Age: Mapping Public Places
November 16, 2012 – April 23, 2013
America Votes: Mapping the Political Landscape
March 26, 2012 – November 11, 2012
Unconventional Maps: Exploring the Stories of Cartographic Curiosities
October 22, 2011 – March 18, 2012
Torn in Two: 150th Anniversary of the Civil War
May 12, 2011 – December 31, 2011
Boston & Beyond: A Bird’s Eye View of New England
January 8, 2008 – June 30, 2008
Journeys of the Imagination
March 31, 2006 – August 18, 2006
Faces & Places
October 8, 2003 – April 30, 2004

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