10 Dec 2021
Over 60 cartographic treasures from collections across Europe, America, and Asia have been curated under one roof in Singapore for the first time. The National Library Board’s (NLB) latest exhibition – Mapping the World: Perspectives from Asian Cartography – comes after two years of collaboration with the Embassy of France in Singapore and French co-curators Professor Pierre Singaravélou and Dr Fabrice Argounès, sourcing rare maps and artefacts from institutions and private collections all over the world. Drawing on the expertise of NLB’s French counterparts, who were curators of the 2018 “The World Seen from Asia” exhibition at the National Museum of Asian Arts Guimet in Paris, Mapping the World takes a uniquely Asian lens to present different mapping traditions, lesser-known stories of Asian cartographic history and their views of the world.
Organised in partnership with the Embassy of France in Singapore, Mapping the World will run for five months from 11 December 2021 to 8 May 2022, at the Level 10 Gallery at the National Library Building. Patrons can also look forward to free tours, talks, and map-making workshops, and a new book featuring selected materials from the exhibition.
NLB’s Chief Executive Officer Mr Ng Cher Pong said: "Mapping the World: Perspectives from Asian Cartography and its accompanying book open the conversation for more to understand how people from different civilisations and cultures perceived the world. This in turn helps us to appreciate the cartographic legacies which continue to shape our contemporary geographical understandings and worldviews. We greatly appreciate the partnership with the Embassy of France in Singapore, and the cultural cooperation across nations, institutions and individuals that made this exhibition possible. This is part of NLB’s LAB25 vision to collaborate with partners and the community to reimagine the role of libraries and archives, to inspire discovery, learning, and connections with one another."
The exhibition is held in association with vOilah! 2021 France Singapore Festival, as the finale of the festival, with the support of Temasek and Tikehau Capital.
Mr Marc Abensour, Ambassador of France to Singapore, said, "The Embassy of France in Singapore is particularly proud to be partner of the exhibition ‘Mapping the World: Perspectives from Asian Cartography’ which is the finale programme of the 2021 edition of the vOilah! France Singapore Festival. A result of a very fruitful collaboration between the National Library Board and two French curators, Mr Pierre Singaravélou and Mr Fabrice Argounès, this exhibition perfectly illustrates the cultural cooperation agreement which was signed in November 2019 by our two Ministers for Culture, and which is focusing on the development of co-creations, co-productions and co-curations between France and Singapore. It will give the opportunity to appreciate for the first time in Singapore cartographic treasures and iconographic representations from the National Museum of Asian Arts Guimet, the National Library of France and the French School of Far-East Studies as well as from a French private collection that are as visually stunning as they are valuable insights into the past.”
The exhibition comprises four sections:
Exhibition highlights include:
Please refer to Annex A for a list of exhibition highlights.
Admission to the exhibition is free. Visitors can look forward to regular guided tours of the exhibition in English and Chinese, talks by subject experts, school learning journeys, and a children’s workshop. Members of the public can sign up for these programmes via Eventbrite (https://go.gov.sg/mtwprogs). Safe management measures will apply for entry to the exhibition and all exhibition programmes, including Vaccinated Differentiated Measures (VDS). Please refer to Annex B for more information on the exhibition programmes.
The new Mapping the World book will also be launched on 10 December 2021, featuring selected material from the exhibition. In the book published by NLB, co-curators Pierre Singaravélou and Fabrice Argounès explore the region’s diverse histories, worldviews, as well as cultural and artistic exchanges through the lens of cartography. The book will be available from December for loan at selected public libraries, via the Libby app (https://go.gov.sg/mtw-epub), and on BookSG (https://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/printheritage). The details are available via our catalogue (https://catalogue.nlb.gov.sg) or the NLB Mobile app.
Roving display – Story of a Map: The Tale of Buddha
Throughout history, different cultures have used maps for navigation, to outline the location of kingdoms, and sometimes, even to tell stories. Story of A Map is an interactive display which explores a unique Thai historical map that tells the story of Prince Siddhartha Gautama and his journey to becoming the Buddha. Story of a Map will travel to the following locations:
Lobby display at the National Library Building – Spiritual Journeys: The Traiphum Map of Thailand
Spiritual Journeys delves into the world of a rare indigenous Thai map found in the Traiphum Manuscript, a Thai Buddhist illustrated text on cosmology dating to 1776. Containing a mixture of geographical and spiritual locations and stories, the Traiphum map offers a fascinating glimpse into the history of Thai cartography and its intersections with Theravada Buddhism.
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 Please refer to NLB’s website for the 5 categories of people who are able to enter NLB’s facilities from 1 December 2021, and the exhibition’s website for updates https://exhibitions.nlb.gov.sg/exhibitions/past-exhibitions/mappingtheworld/.
About National Library Board
The National Library Board (NLB) nurtures Readers for Life, Learning Communities and a Knowledgeable Nation by promoting reading, learning and history through its network of 27 public libraries, the National Library and the National Archives of Singapore. NLB also forges strategic partnerships that encourage awareness, appreciation and greater discovery of Singapore’s history through its rich collections on Singapore and the region.
NLB achieves excellence through innovation, focusing on citizen engagement and co-creation, resource and digital innovation. This creates learning opportunities, greater access to library resources, services and archival collections, as well as a continual development of innovative library spaces. Established on 1 September 1995 as a statutory board, NLB is under the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI).
For more information, please visit the NLB website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube.