Open House and New Exhibition at the BPL's Norman B. Leventhal Map Center
All-ages April 21 event includes curator tours of the new “America Votes” exhibition
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For Immediate Release
April 12, 2012
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BPL Communications Office

The Norman B. Leventhal Map Center at the Boston Public Library will host an open house on Saturday, April 21, from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. The afternoon will include hands-on activities for children and tours of the new exhibition America Votes with Curator Ronald Grim at 1:30pm and 2:30pm.

The all-ages open house will have special elements for young people, including opportunities for bookmark-making, map puzzles, compass rose coloring pages, and more. “The Leventhal Map Center is a place of discovery. At the open house, there will be lively and engaging activities for people of all ages,” said Executive Director Janet Spitz.

The Leventhal Map Center is located on the first floor of the Boston Public Library’s historic McKim Building in Copley Square. The recently-renovated space, which opened in October 2011, is 5,760 square feet, features an exhibition 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.

Currently on display in the Leventhal Map Center’s exhibition gallery is America Votes: Mapping the Political Landscape. This timely, election-year exhibition features approximately 30 maps, political cartoons, photographs, and other graphic images that date from the 1780s to the present. The display begins with an exploration of gerrymandering—two hundred years of manipulating political districts for partisan objectives—and includes maps illustrating the extension of the vote to non-property owners, blacks, and women. America Votes, open through November 10, also features multiple election results maps, with examples ranging from several early efforts to the most recent campaigns.

“In this exhibition, we examine how the map of America’s political landscape has changed over the past 200 years.  Besides displaying a variety of maps that record election results, we highlight the process of gerrymandering which had its origins in Massachusetts with the publication of an iconic cartoon in the Boston Gazette on March 26, 1812,” said Curator Ronald Grim.

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.

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 thousands of 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.       

For more than 160 years, the Boston Public Library has pioneered public library service in America. Established in 1848, the Boston Public Library was the first publicly supported municipal library in America, the first public library to lend books, the first to have a branch library, and the first to have a children’s room. Today, the Boston Public Library has a Central Library, twenty-five branches, a literacy center, map center, business library, and website filled with digital content and services. All of its programs and exhibitions are free and open to the public. At the Boston Public Library, books are just the beginning. To learn more, visit

Image & Video Gallery

America Votes Exhibition Sign


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