Antique map show to live again in film

Eric Gleske

In October, three days before it was due to come down, “500 Years of Cartography” won new life in the form of a film. The exhibit of original maps up to five centuries old is to be featured in a short documentary movie made by Eric Gleske, of OSU’s Media Services office.

A producer and director for the University of New Hampshire for ten years, Gleske was hired by Oregon State to make films for and about the university, partly in cooperation with a new public television venture called the Oregon Channel. The map show caught his attention as a striking example of the meeting of disciplines.

“It’s history and art and science,” he said as he set up lights in the Center’s main meeting and exhibit room. “It’s the kind of story with interest for people around the state.”

The maps include a 16th century French view of California as an island, some of the earliest road maps ever produced (of British country roads), the earliest known map using the name “Oregun,” medieval depictions of cities that include individual buildings still recognizable today, and many others. In addition to close-ups of the dozens of ancient maps, charts and other documents, the film will feature interviews with Duncan Thomas, the collector and curator of the show and a forest ecology research associate with the Smithsonian Institution, Jon Kimerling, OSU professor of geography, and Adele Johnson Woerz, who recently defended her doctoral thesis, a cartographic, historic and artistic analysis of three famous maps created in the early 16th century by Albrecht Dürer in Nürnberg, Germany.

The exhibit is to be photographed in detail by OSU Photographic Services so that close-up portions of the maps can be shown in the film. The film will be posted on the Center’s website when it is completed.

Those interested in seeing the exhibit will have another opportunity in April, when it will be on display at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Corvallis.