Map collection featured at NSU gives audience a glimpse into history

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Printed with permission from M. Rinka: A portion of Neil Asbury’s collection of maps on display at the Alvin Sherman Library’s Cotilla Gallery. The exhibit will remain until the end of January.

On Wednesday, Jan. 24, from 6-9 p.m., the public is invited to attend a presentation by Neal Asbury regarding his collection of maps on display at NSU’s Cotilla Gallery in the Alvin Sherman Library. The exhibit, titled “The Discovery of the Americas and the Establishment of the United States: A Selection from the Asbury Family Map Collection,” has been showcased in the Cotilla Gallery since October and will continue until  the end of January. Over 100 maps from the 1400’s forward, illustrations and cellarius star maps are featured from the personal collection of Asbury, chief executive of The Legacy Company. NSU is the first institution to host these works.

Asbury began collecting maps to showcase their value in the art and entrepreneurial world. As a former music student and current successful international businessman and chief executive, he aims to use this showcase as a way to show the public that maps do more than just give direction. Past rumors about the lost city of El Dorado, the island of California and the rampant plagiarism of maps are all addressed in the collection.

Printed with permission from M. Rinka:  A portion of  Neil Asbury’s collection of maps on display at the Alvin Sherman Library’s Cotilla Gallery. The exhibit will remain until the end of January.
Printed with permission from M. Rinka:
A portion of Neil Asbury’s collection of maps on display at the Alvin Sherman Library’s Cotilla Gallery. The exhibit will remain until the end of January.

According to Asbury, the exhibit’s purpose is to show the audience that maps can be seen as a gateway into history. Many of Asbury’s maps include a detail known as a “cartouche,” which is a decorative emblem that can depict a variety of things, from the map’s title, religious symbolism or hints as to what society was like at the creation of the cartography. “Nova Virginiae Tabula,” created by Willem Janszoon Blaeu, a famous cartographer, based off of details provided by John Smith, depicts the council at which Smith was condemned to death in the corner of the map. This particular map shows the organization of a specific Native American government in 1640, but many others in the exhibit display a variety of scenes with historical significance.

On top of the stories behind the maps, the showcase also presents the detailed ways in which cartographers made the images. The earlier maps in the collection were done by wood blocks with carved reliefs, ink and handmade paper, until more refined, detailed copper plates were used.

“With wood you wouldn’t get as many impressions before that wood block would be destroyed, or had to be very much redone, but with copper, you could get a hundred impressions,” explained Asbury. “At the time, a hundred impressions of something was really, really incredible.”

Before the presentation, a reception will be held from 6-7 p.m. Wine, beverages and a selection of cheeses will be served. During his lecture, attendees can expect to hear stories of specific maps, map making techniques and other interesting anecdotes about the collection. The gallery is free and open to the public, and can be viewed outside the lecture. Those interested in attending can RSVP at sherman.library.nova.edu/sites/spotlight/event/asburylecture-2/.

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