Published in November 2016 issue of Prospect Magazine
British Library, 4th November to 1st March 2017
The emblem of the United Nations depicts a map of the world held in two olive branches symbolising peace. It may sound uncontroversial, but the first version centred on the United States and cut off part of Argentina; it had to be revised. As this exhibition will demonstrate, maps are political dynamite.
Maps became potent tools in the 20th century, which saw the movement of people and the frequent toppling and creation of new states. It was also during this century, curator Tom Harper suggests, that their use became commonplace, rather than the preserve of landowners, scholars and the military. The British Library has drawn together over 150 maps and related objects, from the first one of AA Milne’s Hundred Acre Wood to a trench-map of the Somme battlefields.