Mapping the World

Cartography has a story, but it is one best told in images. The Royal Geographical Society’s Mapping the World artfully narrates the tale through visually stunning maps, culled from the society’s archives. While informative text by author and historian Beau Riffenburgh supplements the display, it would be difficult to find a page without an illustration, and many charts are given a luxurious and much-deserved full-spread.

Behind each map is an explorer’s journey, and Riffenburgh expertly relates the daring expeditions that supplied cartographers with information about the unknown world, from the adventures of Sebastian Cabot to James Cook to David Livingstone. With exciting examples of early Roman stone maps, medieval charts and modern Ordnance Surveys, the narrative moves from cave paintings all the way to NASA Landsat maps of the twenty-first century, revealing how maps have shaped our lives through transportation, communication and politics and affirming that the story of cartography is one that we all share.