Maps & the Age of Exploration

Sept 2 2016 – Mar 11 2017

This current exhibit features maps from the Middle Ages through the 17th Century and explores themes of cartography, navigation, colonialism, missions, and the Doctrine of Discovery.

A map offers incredible insights into a worldview far beyond the fact that it literally depicts how people view the world. Maps depict values; they are not neutral representations of land mass. Moving from the Middle Ages into the Age of Exploration, the exhibit allows the visitor to witness the shifts and developments in maps, and in turn, developments in worldview. Visitors will also see the different navigational and cartographical tools used to mark out coastlines around the world. See it culminate in the stunning three-panel, 9×6 of the world from 1651.

Part and parcel with European exploration are issues of colonialism and the Doctrine of Discovery. Christopher Columbus did not discover the “New World” when he set sail westward in 1492. He stumbled upon inhabited land, and what was new to Europeans had been inhabited by indigenous people for millennia. Yet, through the Age of Exploration, Europeans approached indigenous peoples and their lands with a mindset of superiority, a mission of domination, and a moral and legal justification for the seizure of lands and subjugation of peoples in the Doctrine of Discovery. The Doctrine of Discovery, as first articulated by Pope Nicholas V in the mid-15th Century, called Christian European monarchs “to invade, search out, capture, vanquish, and subdue” all Muslim and pagan people and their lands, reducing the people “to perpetual slavery” and their property to the sovereignty of the monarch (Romanus Pontifex, January 8, 1455). The story of global Christian missions, while nuanced, is inextricably tied to European colonialism. A visit to this feature exhibit will hopefully work toward repudiating oppressions past and present and journeying toward reconciliation with our indigenous neighbours.

Come see our current exhibit. We would love to have you for a visit.

View Our Current Feature Exhibit