The world of John Bartholomew & Son
Ran from 7 December 2012 to 7 May 2013
'Putting Scotland on the map' told the story of one of Scotland's most influential mapmaking firms, John Bartholomew & Son.
Bartholomew produced well-loved maps for every occasion, and in the process changed the face of Scottish mapmaking forever.
How maps were produced
This exhibition brought Bartholomew's Duncan Street premises in Edinburgh back to life as we explored how the firm produced its world-famous maps.
Behind the Duncan Street doors, hand-drawn maps were turned into back-to-front copperplates by engravers before heading to the printing room floor.
Talented craftsmen and women
Exhibition visitors had the chance to meet some of the most influential characters from the Bartholomew family. They also saw evidence of the skill and talent of the craftsmen and women who produced Bartholomew's remarkable maps.
We told the story of the firm through a rich array of items including manuscript maps, printed maps and atlases, photographs, oral history recordings and hand-made tools.
Historic maps on show
This exhibition drew almost entirely on material from the Bartholomew Archive, which records almost 200 years of the development of the firm, from 1820-2001. It is an incredibly rich resource which allows us to study the firm in extraordinary and intimate detail.
Some of the key treasures that visitors saw included:
- The earliest printed atlas of Africa, published in 1588 and collected by the Bartholomew family
- The second printed map of North America, published in 1566, also collected by the family
- Some of the largest wall maps in our collection
- An original copperplate from Bartholomew's most popular map series, their half-inch to the mile maps
- The original map of Edinburgh Zoo.
Interaction with the exhibition
Visitors could experience what it was like to be a Bartholomew employee as they:
- Took a rubbing from a Bartholomew copperplate
- Created a 3D model from a 2D map
- Explored Bartholomew's map-colouring technique
- Compared Bartholomew's historical maps with those of the present day.