Public lecture by the man behind the maps at the British Library

31 Mar 2011 10:52:16.570

PA 105/11

Peter Barber, Head of Cartographic and Topographic Materials at the British Library, helped make cartography cool again in the BBC Four series The Beauty of Maps. Tomorrow evening he will be at The University of Nottingham giving a public lecture that will look at how map exhibitions at the British Museum and British Library, going back to 1800 and up to the present, have reflected changing views of what maps were and are about and their roles in society and culture.

Peter Barber is the curator of some 4.5 million atlases, maps, globes and cartographic books at the British Library. Last year he featured in the BBC Four television series The Beauty of Maps which looked at the art of maps, their historical significance and their relevance to modern map-making. He also revealed some of the stories maps can tell.

His intriguing talk ‘Presenting Maps to the public: What Use, Lies, London and Magnificent Maps’ is being hosted by the School of Geography and will take place on Thursday March 31 2011 in the Sir Clive Ganger building on University Park.
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Peter said: "It's really important that we retain our interest in hardcopy maps because they tell us so much about their makers and their societies in the broadest sense. We could be lost spiritually and culturally as well as geographically if we disgarded them altogether."

Last year’s BBC Four series coincided with the British Library’s exhibition Magnificent Maps: Power, Propaganda and Art that ran until September last year.

The title of Peter Barber’s talk reflects the titles of map exhibitions held by the British Library over the last 20 years. More recent exhibitions have embraced a much wider variety of map that would have been frowned on in the past as ephemeral, commercial, ‘curious’ and scientifically inaccurate.

Today cartography has become cool again thanks to a new focus on the insights that maps can provide about social and historical phenomena, such as London life, court conventions and propaganda and the exercise of power.

It seems the map still has its place despite our obsession with the in-car sat-nav.

The lecture which takes place between 5pm and 6pm in Room A40 of the Sir Clive Granger building on University Park is open to the public and tickets are free. For more information please contact Andrea Payne

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Notes to editors: The University of Nottingham, described by The Sunday Times University Guide 2011 as ‘the embodiment of the modern international university’, has award-winning campuses in the United Kingdom, China and Malaysia. It is ranked in the UK's Top 10 and the World's Top 75 universities by the Shanghai Jiao Tong (SJTU) and the QS World University Rankings. It was named ‘Europe’s greenest university’ in the UI GreenMetric World University Ranking, a league table of the world’s most environmentally-friendly higher education institutions, which ranked Nottingham second in the world overall.

The University is committed to providing a truly international education for its 40,000 students, producing world-leading research and benefiting the communities around its campuses in the UK and Asia.

More than 90 per cent of research at The University of Nottingham is of international quality, according to the most recent Research Assessment Exercise, with almost 60 per cent of all research defined as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’. Research Fortnight analysis of RAE 2008 ranked the University 7th in the UK by research power. The University’s vision is to be recognised around the world for its signature contributions, especially in global food security, energy & sustainability, and health.

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Story credits

More information is available from Andrea Payne on +44 (0)115 951 5428,
Lindsay Brooke

Lindsay Brooke - Media Relations Manager

Email: Phone: +44 (0)115 951 5751 Location: University Park

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