Exhibitions

November 16, 2017 to March 10, 2018

Maps show many versions of our world, for many purposes, but their simplest purpose is to show the way from one place to another. The artists in this exhibition have used the techniques of mapping, and maps themselves, to show the way to the metaphorical and the metaphysical. We invite you to explore these artworks and see where they lead you.

March 20, 2017 to October 28, 2017

Americans relied on printed images to understand World War I before and after the US entered the war in April 1917. Their understanding of Germany as an enemy was shaped by propaganda maps and posters, while newspaper maps helped them follow the war's battles. In Europe, maps of the trench systems and of the Western Front were vital to the success of the American Expeditionary Forces. This exhibition commemorates and explores American participation in the Great War—the "War to End All Wars"—with a sample of informative and propagandistic posters, maps, and atlases drawn from the collections of Osher Map Library and Smith Center for Cartographic Education.

September 29, 2016 to March 18, 2017
One of the greatest stories of exploration and discovery is the quest for the Northwest Passage, an oceanic shortcut from the Atlantic to the Pacific across the top of North America. Tempted with the prospect of wealth and glory, countless seafarers gambled—and occasionally lost—their lives in pursuit of a route through the frozen bays and rivers at the farthest reaches of Arctic North America.
April 7, 2016
Curated by Dr. Stephen J. Hornsby, co-editor of the Historical Atlas of Maine and author of a forthcoming book on American pictorial maps, this exhibit looks at the golden age of pictorial or illustrated maps from the 1920s to the 1960s. Reflecting the exuberance of American popular culture and the creativity of commercial art, the maps are stimulating to the imagination and dazzling to the eye.
November 19, 2015 to March 12, 2016

Curated by the OML staff and some of Maine's very own luminaries, including renowned authors Susan Minot and Monica Wood as well as Senator Angus King, Senator Susan Collins and Congresswoman Chellie Pingree, among others, this engaging exhibit highlights masterpieces from OML collections. Featuring monumental pieces of cartographic history from around the world, ranging from the first modern printed map in 1475 to superb examples of woodcut, copperplate, and lithographic map printing from the 15th through the 19th centuries. We invite you to come and see some of the rarest and most beautiful maps, atlases, and globes in the world and to hear what Maine notables have to say about their favorite pieces from our collection.

August 8, 2015 to October 22, 2015

This exhibition recognizes and celebrates the long overlooked role of women in the world of mapping; bringing their stories, accomplishments, and most importantly their maps to light. Curated by Alice Hudson, former Chief of the Map Division at the New York Public Library, Women in Cartography showcases the works of better-known women cartographers such as Marie Tharp, who, in partnership with Bruce Heezen, created the first scientific map of the entire ocean floor, and, Agnes Sinclair Holbrook who created the Hull-House maps, statistical cartographic presentations of social data from the immigrant rich Near West Side neighborhoods of Chicago.

August 7, 2015 to September 28, 2015

This exhibit explores the diverse roles and stories of women in maritime commerce in Portland from historical and contemporary perspectives and is illustrated with photographs from Maine Maritime Museum's collection, as well as historic maps and images from the Osher Map Library collection.

October 16, 2014 to February 26, 2015

Hand-drawn maps are works of art. They are, by definition, unique and rare. They give us not only a direct and tangible link to past cultures and societies but more particularly an immediate connection with the very individuals who made, held, and used them. This exhibition explores the phenomenon of the hand-drawn map in the modern age of print.

March 25, 2014 to August 14, 2014

OML is pleased to present a subset of Charting an Empire, the two-part exhibition curated by Stephanie Cyr and Ronald E. Grim and originally installed in 2013 at the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center of the Boston Public Library.

September 24, 2013 to February 27, 2014

To the Ends of the Earth... and Back offers a historical overview of polar exploration and the ongoing process of globalization as depicted in maps, charts, books, and artifacts from the Kislak Polar Collection.

April 2, 2013 to August 24, 2013

OML is pleased to present, as part of the 2013 Maine Civil War Trail, a subset of the exhibition of the same name, curated by Dr. Ronald E. Grim and originally installed in 2011 at the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center of the Boston Public Library.

September 11, 2012 to February 28, 2013

The symbolic use in modern American culture of the outline "logo" map of the United States of America is so widespread and pervasive that it can truly be called “iconic,” as revealed through John Fondersmith's collection.

May 15, 2012 to August 23, 2012

The experience of life aboard the great vessels that plied the Atlantic, from the introduction of steam to the rise of air travel, is presented through this selection of materials from the Morse Collection of ocean liner ephemera.

October 4, 2011 to April 28, 2012

The 400th anniversary of Thomas Coryat’s "Crudities" (1611), the first tourist memoir, is celebrated by this history, to 1918, of the European tourism industry and the development of guidebooks and maps.

March 8, 2011 to August 25, 2011

The early printed maps of Maine reveal the development of the state through expanding population and economy. They encompass a wide variety of works, from formal atlas and wall maps to ephemeral pocket maps and maps in newspapers.

September 15, 2010 to December 15, 2010

The ways in which Renaissance Europeans sought to understand their rapidly expanding world are presented in this traveling exhibition of thirty of the very first printed world maps.

October 18, 2009 to August 21, 2010

Maps offer such compelling insights into the past that anyone, regardless of age or educational level, can enjoy and learn from them. To celebrate OML's renovation and expansion, this exhibition explores the library’s rich and varied collections and its mission to preserve those collections and make them accessible.

March 14, 2009 to June 21, 2009

In the late 1800s, “Arctic fever” swept the nation as dozens of American expeditions sailed north to find a sea route to Asia and, ultimately, to stand at the North Pole. This exhibition paints a new portrait of these polar voyagers by placing them within the tempests of American cultural life.

February 24, 2007 to June 2, 2007

Come on a voyage of geographical exploration and discovery, beginning in 1540 with the first voyages by Europeans along the west coast of North America, and culminating in Thomas Jefferson’s commission of Lewis and Clark’s Corps of Discovery from 1804 to 1806.

October 1, 2005 to December 31, 2006

The shape and nature of Portland have changed dramatically over the past two hundred years as its shoreline was repeatedly expanded to accommodate commercial and industrial enterprises, new residential areas and parks, and a growing and changing transportation network.

October 2, 2004 to June 30, 2005

Marking OML's tenth anniversary, this exhibition displays a broad selection of its cartographic treasures of interest to historians.

May 13, 2003 to May 29, 2004

Nineteenth-century maps of the U.S.A. embodied a truly important conflict in how Americans understood the republic: is it a collection of sovereign states or an expansive Union?

January 22, 2002 to January 5, 2003

Maps from the sixteenth century to the present can be used to explore different spatial aspects of diaspora ~ considered generally ~ through the experiences of Jews and African-Americans.

February 13, 2001 to December 21, 2001

U.S. road maps have always emphasized a proud national history and have promised a glorious future, through the magic of the automobile. So get out the road map to plot your course . . . and don't forget to buy our brand of gas!

April 4, 2000 to November 1, 2000

The charts in this exhibition explore how mariners have distinguished one piece of water from any other, by determining what phenomena can be delineated across the vast, trackless ocean and by developing notations to express those phenomena.

October 4, 1999 to March 25, 2000

Marking OML's fifth anniversary, this exhibition displays a broad selection of its cartographic treasures. 'Treasure' is defined both literally (by value to collectors) and metaphorically (by intellectual value).

June 15, 1999 to September 18, 1999

This selection of popular 'cartifacts' and map memorabilia from the eighteenth century to the present ~ on many different materials and varying in size from shower curtains to stamps ~ demonstrates that form and function are not necessarily related.

September 2, 1998 to October 6, 1999

An exhibition tracing the cartographic evolution of Iberia through a series of maps, from 1486 through 1829, donated by Dr. Peter M. Enggass, professor emeritus of Geography and Geology, Mt. Holyoke College.

January 24, 1998 to May 17, 1998

This traveling exhibition traces the development of European mapping, from the 16th to the 21st century, of the African continent, or one fifth of the world's landmass.

May 22, 1997 to January 7, 1998

This exhibition explores of the creation of a landscape of extensive and paradoxical exploitation after 1820 of interior Maine's forest resources and of its idealized essence as "wilderness."

November 30, 1996 to April 27, 1997

An exhibition of early maps that chronicles the effects of European exploration and settlement in north-eastern North America in creating a spatial concept called "New England."

April 17, 1996 to October 5, 1996

Sacred to Jews, Christians, and Moslems, the city has inspired a prodigious outpouring of prose and poetry, artistic renderings, and, of course, maps. This exhibition offers a selection of maps and views to celebrate the 3000th anniversary of Jerusalem's establishment as the capital of King David's unified Kingdom of Israel.

March 19, 1994 to June 26, 1994

Geographical concepts have always included what today we know to be myths, but which were firmly believed by contemporaries; these myths, such as those about 'monsters,' were often depicted through graphic allegory. Early maps are thus works of art rich in symbolism waiting to be revealed.

October 1, 1992 to October 31, 1992

These maps illustrate the progressive improvement in Europe's geographical concepts in the Renaissance, with particular emphasis on the New World of North and South America.

September 19, 1992 to December 13, 1992

Cervantes wrote, in 1605, "Journey over all the uni­verse in a map, without the expense and fatigue of traveling, without suffering the inconveniences of heat, cold, hunger, and thirst" We invite you to take a journey in this exhibition, to discover the mapmaker's art - the art of discovery.