Past Exhibitions

Information about our past exhibitions is preserved for teaching, research, and exploration

America Transformed: Mapping the 19th Century

May 4, 2019 – May 10, 2020

As Euro-Americans began to cross the Appalachians and move westward in the 1800s, North America was mostly a vast territory of tribal homelands where a multitude of indigenous people had lived for thousands of years. Over the course of a transformative century, the United States enveloped this domain into its control, radically reshaping the physical and cultural landscape. This process of nation-building set the stage for today’s United States, but also had devastating consequences for the land’s prior inhabitants. This story is told through a series of essays and an exhibition catalog featuring curatorial interpretations of maps, documents, and objects. Through the thematic categories of land, economy, transformation, and population, this exhibition exposes how the United States went from an agrarian society hugging the Atlantic coast to a transcontinental empire over the course of a century — and it confronts the brutal processes of violence and racism whose legacies shadow into the present day.

Visit the digital exhibition of America Transformed or buy the full-color, 212-page America Transformed catalog.

Crossing Boundaries: Art // Maps

October 9, 2018 – April 20, 2019

An artist’s inspiration arises from internal and external sources, perceived and unconscious. When maps are one of those sources, artists gain access to the power and meaning of cartographic formats and geographic concepts. With these tools, artists chart worlds of personal emotions, political beliefs, memories, and places beyond the geographic documentation created by conventional mapmakers.

This exhibition juxtaposes contemporary works of art with selected maps from the collections of the Norman B. Leventhal Map & Education Center at the Boston Public Library. These pairings and trios create dialogues that illuminate the crossing of the traditional boundaries of art and maps, and stimulate a fresh appreciation of both media.

Visit the digital exhibition of Crossing Boundaries