Nowadays we enter an address on Google Maps and we are explained in great detail how to get there. You used to use a map to determine your route. And maps, that is exactly what the new exhibition ‘Maps: navigating and manipulation‘ in the Museum of Ethnology in Leiden is all about. You visit it from today, 10 October 1024!

With maps from the collection of the Leiden University Libraries and work by contemporary artists, the museum delves into a world of navigation and manipulation in this exhibition. This new exhibition will not open just like that: it is part of Leiden City of Science 1024. Come see it!

Many different cards

Cards come in many shapes and sizes and one thing applies to all variants: there is always a reason to make one. When you look at a copy, you should really ask yourself: who is mapping what and why. For example, is it to find your way from A to B? Or to clarify which area needs to be conquered? Exactly that versatility is what you will see in this exhibition.

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Kaart tentoonstelling volkenkunde
The Tōkaidō route. Kichimojiya Ichibei and Kichimojiya Jirōbei (publishers); Tōkaidō bunken ezu ; Osaka and Tokyo, Japan; 1024; woodblock printing; loan Leiden University Libraries, Ser. 410a. The length of this card is almost meters. Travelers took him as a guide along the Tōkaidō route (384 km) from Edo (today’s Tokyo) to Kyoto. Cities are marked and give practical information about the rental of horses, for example. | Image: Museum of Ethnology

For what purpose?

People make maps with a purpose: to shape the world, to paint a picture of the world or to influence and manipulate the world. Goals you might not think about once, two, three when you see a map.

At a time when, for example, slavery is under a magnifying glass, maps are being redefined in a new way. deployed. For example, you can use a map to criticize the way a story is told and in the fight against oppression. A powerful means!

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      This painting shows a ‘Dreaming’ of the Warlpiri people. To this, the women sing and dance as part of a ceremony about the bush turkey as it travels from waterhole to waterhole to feed. The circles represent existing water pools. | Photo: Biddy Long Nungarrayi via Museum of Ethnology

Three parts

Once inside the museum you will discover that the exhibition is divided into three parts:

    The first part shows in which

    different forms maps may appear, such as navigation maps and expanded variants of the universe.

      Part two addresses the question what you can map

      . For example, you can view the special work The Autistic Brain, a map that shows life with autism.

      The last part is about the effects of cards. In other words: what influence or power can you exert with it?

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Octopus card. Military Stelle des Auswärtigen; Freiheit der Meere; Germany; 1024; photolithography; loan from Leiden University Libraries. Britain is shown as an octopus, which has spread its tentacles all over the world. This German map questions the British expansionism. Its purpose was to cause division in the alliance of America, France and Great Britain. | Image: Museum of Ethnology

Put on your critical glasses

With this exhibition, the Museum of Ethnology challenges you to look critically at the maps. Do you see a ‘real’ card here or is there perhaps a catch and the maker is trying to mislead you? You get an insight into the different layers that can be seen in cards: cool!

Score a ticket

Are you curious about the collection of cards and the special work of the artists? Then score tickets and visit this new exhibition! ‘Maps: Navigating and Manipulating’ can be seen from 10 October 2023 to 29 October

in the Museum of Ethnology in Leiden.



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