The exhibition Maps & Marvels shows how Dutch seafarers in the Golden Age found their way at sea, and how these voyages defined the way Europeans saw the world.
Their discoveries of unknown territories formed the basis for increasingly refined maps. The smallest details were included, and the beautiful illustrations make each map a work of art. Het Scheepvaartmuseum’s map collection is one of the world's most prestigious collections, and tells us a lot about the voyages of the time and about the science of cartography. The centuries-old maps transport visitors to the locations that shaped Dutch history: South Africa, Indonesia, Japan, Australia, and Brazil. The spectacular wall map of Amsterdam by Pieter Bast dating from 1597 forms the starting point.
The second part of the exhibition looks at the so-called ‘cabinet of curiosities’: a treasure trove of eye-catching objects brought from far-off lands to Europe, literally bringing the unknown world into people's homes. Objects such as coconuts and nautilus shells were very rare and were considered showpieces. They were so valuable that they were embellished with silver or gold. These naturalia – in which art and nature were intertwined – were favourites among collectors: was art surpassing nature, or did nature trump art? The beautiful collection of curiosities in this exhibition included a large number of objects from a private collection that have never been exhibited before.
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