Map & Atlas Museum of La Jolla
by Wendy VanHatten
When we can travel near and far…this museum is a fun place to visit.
This is not your typical museum. Not even what you might think of when you hear map and atlas museum.
True, there are maps and atlases here. But different. What would you expect maps of the world from the 1400s to look like? Did people even think about the entire world in the 1400s? Apparently more than just a few did. Many drawings depict a realistic and an amazingly precise look of what you might see today. They’re just from over 500 years ago.
There’s a map of Disneyland from 1958 and a map of the TWA route from 1930. And, everything in between.
This collection is eclectic, educational, and astounding. With their goal of creating an awareness and appreciation for the geography, history, politics, and artistic beauty of antique maps and atlases, I believe they have succeeded.
Different exhibitions include maps categorized by Exploration, Colonization, California as an Island, and Sea Charts. Other galleries include maps of Europe, Africa, Asia, New England, a 1946 map of California wine areas, the Eastern Mediterranean, and the 1816 first edition of John Melish’s map of the US.
Education opportunities abound for school kids to adults. Keep looking. You’re sure to see something different every time you visit. I have.
The most recent visit featured an exhibit of pictorial maps from Museum Founder Mr. Michael Stone’s collection. Maps including Walt Disney’s Magic Kingdom, Disneyland USA 1958, San Francisco, and one titled A Hysterical Map of the Mother Lode where California was Born and Hell was Raised.
In another room the San Zeno Wheel commanded attention. It consists of three movable disks that turn on a central axis, a device known as a volvelle. The disks are made of pine, covered in vellum, giving the impression of a huge manuscript sheet. It was originally made for the Basilica of San Zeno in Verona. You just have to see it to believe it.
Next time you’re in La Jolla…stop and visit. Admission is free.
If You Go: The Map & Atlas Museum of La Jolla is located 7825 Fay Street, Suite LL-A (lower level courtyard) in La Jolla. It is open Wednesdays and Thursdays and the 1st and 3rd Saturdays, 11 to 4.