A journey through maps
'You are Here' was an exhibition that challenged what we know about maps, how they are made and how we understand them.
Ran from 22 July 2016 until 17 April 2017.
The National Library of Scotland's exhibition demonstrated the versatility and beauty of maps, and the skill of the cartographers who created them.
Maps are everywhere: on our phones, in our cars, on walls, bus stops and adverts. But how much do we really know about them?
'You are Here' explored our world through maps, asking questions about how maps are made and how we understand them.
Exhibition visitors could wander through the maps on display, zooming out from the Library itself, to view the whole world.
'You are here' included one of the finest plans of Edinburgh, the first map of Scotland, as well as railway, fishing and schoolroom maps. You could explore:
- The city of Edinburgh
- The country of Scotland
- The land of Great Britain
- The continent of Europe
- The whole world
Maps questions answered
Drawn from our collection of more than two million maps and atlases, together the maps in the exhibition explored the answers to common questions:
- Why is north at the top?
- How do you flatten a spherical world onto paper?
- How do you show hills on a flat map?
- Why do maps have a scale?
- Do maps go out of date?
Many words are required to describe features, methods and skills used in reading maps and mapmaking.
You can learn about cartographic words and their meanings in our maps glossary.
A wide range of amazing maps were on display in 'You are Here', including:
Visitors could also see one of the largest and most splendid atlases ever made — the Blaeu Atlas Maior.
Visitors to the exhibition could:
March's 'Map of the month'.
- See a 'smell map' of Edinburgh — showing the origin of Auld Reekie's various smells, and where they travel on a south-westerly wind
- Learn how place names change over time, and why
- Examine a theodolite — a surveying instrument used to measure angles and calculate distances for mapping
- Collect orienteering stamps by answering questions around the exhibition.
- View a new map every month in our special 'Map of the month' display.