Boston Public Library to Open New Space for the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center
Ribbon cutting and opening ceremony to take place on October 22 in Copley Square
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For Immediate Release
October 06, 2011
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The Boston Public Library will open a new space for the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center on Saturday, October 22. The opening ceremony and ribbon cutting will begin at 11:00 a.m. at the Central Library in Copley Square, located at 700 Boylston Street. Under construction since April of this year, the renovation of 5,760 square feet of space is a City of Boston capital project.

The Leventhal Map Center will be located on the first floor of the library’s historic McKim Building in Copley Square. The renovated space features a new exhibitions gallery, a public learning center, and a reading room for rare map research. Other elements include a custom stained glass reproduction of a 1775 map of Boston, exploration areas designed for children, and a world globe three feet in diameter.

The Leventhal Map Center, created in 2004, is a nonprofit organization established as a public-private partnership between the Boston Public Library and philanthropist Norman Leventhal. Its mission is to use the Boston Public Library’s permanent collection of 200,000 maps and 5,000 atlases and a select group of rare maps collected by Mr. Leventhal for the enjoyment and education of all through exhibitions, educational programs, and a website that includes more than 3,600 digitized maps at The map collection is global in scope, dating from the 15th century to the present, with a particular strength in maps and atlases of Boston, Massachusetts, and New England.

“The opening of this map center is a testament to the success that public-private partnerships can bring to Boston,” said Mayor Thomas M. Menino. “Together with City dollars, a private investment by Norman Leventhal makes it possible to showcase and share more of what the Boston Public Library has to offer to the people of Boston.”

Norman Leventhal stated, “I commend Mayor Menino and the Boston Public Library for constantly working to find ways to make the riches of Boston available to all her residents, not just the most fortunate among us.”

The Leventhal Map Center is ranked among the top 10 in the United States for the size of its collection, the significance of its historic (pre-1900) material, and its advanced digitization program. It is unique among the major collections because it also combines these features with exceptional educational programs to advance geographic literacy among students in grades K-12 and enhance the teaching of subjects from history to mathematics to language arts. The collection is also the second largest in the country located in a public library, ensuring unlimited access to these invaluable resources for scholars, educators, and the general public.

“Some of the Boston Public Library’s finest preservation and innovation work can be seen in the Leventhal Map Center,” said Amy E. Ryan, President of the Boston Public Library. “From careful care of rare maps to dynamic displays of artifacts and atlases, the Leventhal Map Center appeals to the researcher in all of us – whether it is cartography or curiosity that draws us in.”

Following the ribbon cutting on October 22, there will be exhibition tours within the Leventhal Map Center and, at 11:45 am, a geography-centered puppet show for children held in the nearby courtyard. The Map Center’s initial exhibitions will be open to the public at all times that the Central Library in Copley Square is open. The exhibitions feature Leventhal Map Center Treasures as well as Unconventional Maps: Exploring the Stories of Cartographic Curiosities.

Facts about and features of the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center at the Boston Public Library:

  • 5,760 square feet of total space
    • 1,120 square feet of new exhibition space
    • 650 square feet of new research space
  • New climate control storage for thousands of maps and atlases
  • New reading room for rare map research
  • A 3’ foot diameter world globe
  • Stained glass window reproduction of a 1775 map of Boston, designed by Lyn Hovey
  • Kids Map Club in window niches with puzzles, books, memory games, and map-related activities
  • Space designed by the global design, planning, and strategic consulting firm Gensler.

Image featured above is Nova totius terrarum orbis geographica ac hydrographica tabula, dated 1630, and is available at

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