They are the maps that inspired the idea of Australia. Rare, priceless and rarely allowed out of Europe's great vaults. Until now.

From November 7, the National Library of Australia in Canberra will stage Mapping Our World: Terra Incognita to Australia – a blockbuster exhibition showcasing many of the world’s greatest maps – as well as the best from Australia’s own collections.

 It is the first time most have been seen in the southern hemisphere, with the British Library, the Vatican and the Bibliotheque Nationale de France among those lending their treasures for this one-off exhibition. But the exhibition’s star attraction will come from one of the lesser known institutions, the Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana in Venice. The Fra Mauro, a two-metre hand-painted disc world, has never, in its 600-year history, left Italy. This, the greatest of all medieval maps, will be on show in Canberra.

 Also on show:

  • The atlas of Ptolemy of Alexandria – the first map of the world.
  • The Psalter World Map, the ‘great history’ from the bedchamber of Henry III.
  • The atlas of Jean Rotz, mapmaker to Henry VIII
  • James Cook’s original east coast of Australia
  • Matthew Flinders’ survey sketches in Australia and while imprisoned on Mauritius
  • Abel Tasman’s original journal and map of New Holland
  • Doncker’s last surviving  Sea Atlas.
  • 300-year-old navigational charts from the collection of Kerry Stokes
  • The secret mapping of Australia by the Dutch East India Company

 The National Library in Canberra will be the exclusive Australian venue for this exhibition which runs for a strictly limited season – 7 November 2013 to 10 March 2014.

High-res images of the maps are available. 

Media Contact:

Sally Hopman, Media Liaison Manager, or 0401 226 697