For wanderers like us, maps are more than a piece of paper. They are an inspirational and nostalgic force that stirs thoughts of discovery and exploration as well as admiration and awe for our ancestors and history. That is why stumbling across this map museum tucked away in a charming La Jolla, CA mall was such a gem of a find.
This private collection, worth tens of millions, is the largest west of the Mississippi. It contains maps as old and simple as Isadore of Seville's 1472 "T-O" map where the world is a circle divided like a pie with Asia as a full half and Europa and Africa as quarters. On the more modern side it contains colorful pictograph maps like Ruth Taylor White's 1942 "Wine Map of California" and a selection of Jo Mora's whimsical cartoonish California maps (1920s).
As a California resident, my personal favorite was "The Unique Map of California" (1888) which was commissioned as a promotional item to attract immigrants with illustrations of tempting California scenes like the mountains, farmland, waterfalls and palm trees overlaid on top of the sepia map.
In this digital age of Google Maps and more, it is worth the time to take a break from the screens and appreciate the artistry of the real things.