The Met exhibits large collection of Philippine antique cartography

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The Metropolitan Museum of Manila presents Mapping the Philippine Seas, an exhibition of antique maps and charts of the Philippine archipelago dated from the early 16th century to the late 19th century.

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Globe gore of the Philippines by Vincenzo Coronelli, Venice 1693

Made possible through the partnership with the Philippine Map Collectors Society (PHIMCOS), the exhibition consists of 165 original maps and sea charts from the private collections of PHIMCOS members and from the collection of the GSIS museum.

The collection includes significant maps like a reproduction of the “Selden Map” courtesy of the Bodleian Library in Oxford, the maps where the names “Filipina” and “Las Philippinas” first appeared, and the “Treaty of Paris” map. Among other maps, some are made by well-known cartographers such as Robert Dudley, Alexander Dalrymple and Jacques-Nicolas Bellin, and others are from the Spanish, British and French admiralties.

Another important highlight of the exhibition is the “Carta Hydrographica y Chorographica delas Yslas Filipinas,” a map produced in 1734 by Padre Pedro Murillo Velarde. The map was engraved by a Filipino artist named Nicolas de la Cruz Bagay together with Francisco Suarez for some other images. Decorated with intricate designs on its cartouche and meticulous embellishments around its surface, there are stylized images of Filipinos, Chinese, Christian, Spaniards, mestizos, and other natives from different ethnic groups.

Beyond showing this extensive collection of antique maps and sea charts, this exhibition aims to educate people about the role that the Philippines has played in the history of trade with its neighboring countries and European colonizers, explorations of faster sea passages, and navigation of safer routes through the archipelago.

The exhibition will be on-view at the MET from March 15 to April 29 and will be complemented by a series of public lectures with experts who will discuss different aspects about the history of Philippine maritime cartography. An opening reception will be held on March 14 at 6 p.m.

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