The exhibit, "Florida, the Making of a State: a Cartographic Adventure, Jan. 17-March 28, 2002," employs rare and antique maps and facsimiles to graphically chronicle from 1507 to 1931 the discovery and colonization of Florida by the Spanish, the British, the French and the United States. It attempts to answer such questions as who actually discovered Florida? How was it discovered and how did it eventually become a state in 1845? Is it true that Florida once extended from Nova Scotia to the Mississippi River? From the era of discovery to the present day, how many countries have exercised control over Florida?
The answers to these question and others, of course, are often revealed by studying maps. In addition to instructing voyagers on how to move from here to there, they are also the primary means of claiming ownership of a geographic area. As Europeans explored the lands of the New World, maps became more and more important and valuable: they were fought over and vigorously guarded and enviously coveted by kings and other rulers because they charted the routes to newly discovered lands and treasures.
As the display demonstrated, the New World was depicted in many guises as explorers and colonizers pierced the frontiers of the unknown. From atop the ship's mast, often by only using a compass, a sexton and the stars, they were able to precisely rendered the lands they were discovering and exploring.
The exhibit shows how astonishingly accurate the explorers were in representing the true shapes of the continents, oceans and islands of the New World.
Bienes Center Librarian
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