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N.Y. Exhibit Shows a New Take on Maps

April 8, 2006

NEW YORK – From ancient charts to computerized navigation systems, people have always relied on maps to tell them where they are and where they can go. But there are maps that are more than just physical destinations. A map can also be an abstract place.

A new exhibit shows how mapping can go metaphysical, charting such information as the relationships between different scientific fields. “Places & Spaces: Mapping Science” is on view at the New York Public Library’s Science Industry and Business Library through Aug. 31.

The show features 20 maps, from older ones with ancient depictions of the planet to a chart giving a timeline of anthrax research literature. A series of globes chronicles information such as the number of patents held in various countries, and an interactive illuminated map displays how different scientific fields are connected and where research is done.

It’s all about providing a guide to how science has evolved, said Deborah MacPherson, one of the curators of the show. Science has advanced so much, but the general public’s understanding of it is still lagging.

“We need to simplify how science is explained,” she said.

We’ve all seen examples of how science information can be expressed visually. One is the periodic table of elements, a fundamental part of any high school chemistry textbook. It is laid out in rows and columns that group the elements in certain patterns, showing anyone looking at it the links between them.

The exhibit includes other uses. For example, one map reminds viewers of the London Underground map, but tracks thought processes instead of trains.

Knowledge maps are needed now more than ever because people need ways to manage the sheer volume of information out there, said Brad Paley, who created a map in the show that functions as a visual index of a book.

“We have more information than has ever been accessible to human beings,” he said.

Other New York exhibits opening this month:

_”Historical Fictions: Edward Lamson Henry’s Paintings of Past and Present,” The New-York Historical Society, through Aug. 6: Lamson was a popular artist during the late 1800s. This show has 21 of his paintings and drawings and features his takes on America’s past as well as life during his time.

_”Warriors of the Himalayas: Rediscovering the Arms and Armor of Tibet,” The Metropolitan Museum of Art, through July 2: A look at rare helmets, body armor and weapons from several hundred years of Tibetan history.

_”Dutch Watercolors: The Great Age of the Leiden Botanical Garden,” The New York Botanical Garden, April 8-July 9: Books, prints and botanical watercolors will be used to show the exotic plants discovered by Dutch explorers, and the historical importance of the Hortus Botanicus of Leiden, in the Netherlands, one of the oldest botanical gardens in Europe.

_”Veronese’s Allegories: Virtue, Love, and Exploration in Renaissance Venice,” The Frick Collection, April 11-July 16: The first American show on Paolo Veronese in almost 20 years, this exhibition brings together five of his large-scale paintings.

_”Spring Sensations: The Conservatory Flower Show,” New York Botanical Garden, April 15-June 4: a showcase of all the favorite flowers of spring, from irises and daffodils to tulips and pansies.

_”The Art of Betty Woodman,” Metropolitan Museum, April 25-July 30: This is the first American retrospective of Woodman, and will cover her career from the 1950s through her most recent work.

_”Cai Guo-Qiang on the Roof: Transparent Monument,” Metropolitan Museum, April 25-Oct. 29: The roof garden at the museum will host four of the artist’s sculptures that focus on his easiness with the world around us.

On the Net:

New York Public Library: http://www.nypl.org

New-York Historical Society: http://www.nyhistory.org

Metropolitan Museum of Art: http://www.metmuseum.org

New York Botanical Garden: http://www.nybg.org

Frick Collection: http://www.frick.org




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