Mapping the Pacific Coast: Coronado to Lewis and Clark, The Quivira Collection
Previously exhibited at Mystic Seaport
Explore 16th- and 17th-century maritime navigation and California's vast terrain in Mapping the Pacific Coast: Coronado to Lewis and Clark, The Quivira Collection, previously exhibited at Mystic Seaport.
On loan from the private collection of Henry and Holly Wendt of Washington, the traveling exhibit features more than 30 rare and historic maps, illustrations and books. Discover early Europeans' changing understanding of the North American Pacific Coast by taking this chronological journey that begins with the collection's oldest map -- a rare 1544 woodcut by Sebastian Munster -- and ends with Thomas Jefferson's decision to commission the Corps of Discovery.
Made between 1550 and 1802, these maps were once highly prized and jealously guarded by European rulers intent on finding lucrative trade routes and claiming new territories. Individually, the maps are beautiful works of art, featuring ornate cartouches and borders, imaginative drawings of sea serpents and ships, and detailed observations about coastlines and rivers - some accurate and some not. Together, they trace the evolution of European beliefs about the geography and orientation of North America's Pacific Coast. Varying mistakes and fantasies, including the initial belief that California was an island, are illustrated in the exhibit.
The mapmakers, who originated from Germany, Italy, Northern Europe and England, provide a sampling of the history of cartography in Europe from the mid 1500s to the early 1800s.
Mapping the Pacific Coast: Coronado to Lewis and Clark is divided into four sections that span the transition from the European Renaissance to the Age of Enlightenment:
- Fact and Fantasy: the Earliest Explorers and the Legend of Quivira (mid 1500s to mid 1700s)
- California as an Island: (mid 1600s to late 1700s)
- Secret Russian Explorations in the Pacific: (1752 - 1775)
- In the Wake of Captain James Cook: (late 1700s)
A free audio guide will be available to further enhance your experience. Listen closely as collector Henry Wendt discusses the story behind each map and illustration, revealing hidden details and prompting you to briefly travel back in time to re-enter the world of the cartographers and explorers.
Complementing the exhibit, a selection of navigational instruments and other artifacts from the Museum's collection will also be displayed. These pieces include an American-made backstaff from 1762, a chronometer used aboard the Charles W. Morgan and a scale model of Endeavour, one of the ships sailed by Captain Cook.
The Journey Continues...
Learn more about Mapping the Pacific Coast: Coronado to Lewis and Clark and read notes about the collection from owners Henry and Holly Wendt at www.mappingthepacificcoast.com.
Images from top to bottom:
Septentrionalium Terrarum descriptio by Gerardus Mercator. Amsterdam, 1595.
Maris Pacifici by Abraham Ortelius. Antwerp, 1589.
America by Jodocus Hondius. Amsterdam, 1606.
All images courtesy The Quivira Collection.