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The Map Department displays several small exhibitions based on its collections each year. These can be seen in the cases near the Map Room in the North Front corridor.

Unfortunately, these displays are generally accessible only to holders of Library reader's cards, although it can sometimes be arranged for visitors to view them by appointment (see the Admissions Department web pages for information on acquiring a reader's card).

Details of the Library's main public exhibitions can be found here.

Current Exhibition:

  • Battlelines (480 BC - 1805 AD). A collection of battlefield maps ranging from the ancient world to the Napoleonic era.

Previous Exhibitions:

  • Phantom Lands. Inspired by Edward Brooke-Hitching’s The Phantom Atlas [S696.b.201.226] this exhibition unveils several historical cartographic myths.
  • Further Curiosities. Inspired by the Curious Objects exhibition in the Library’s Milstein Exhibition Centre, the selection of items showcases some of the many additional curiosities found within the Map Department.
  • The Great Fire of 1666. A selection of the maps and views to mark the Great Fire of London.
  • The Ancient World. A selection of the maps of the ancient world.
  • Literary Landmarks. A selection of maps focussing on authors and literary landmarks.
  • Digital Dimensions : the Cartography of Video Games. A selection of maps from the collection that were either the inspiration for, or have been used in, video games.
  • Mappy Christmas: A selection of maps with a Christmas theme (2015)
  • 500 Years of Italian Grammar(s), Culture, and Society in Italy and Europe: From Fortunio's Regole (1516) to the Present. Guest Exhibition curated by Dr Helena Sanson (Senior Lecturer in post-Medieval Italian studies at the Department of Italian) to cooincide with a one-day conference being held on 10 December 2015.
  • Space: The Final Frontier: Since the times of our earliest ancestors we have looked to the skies and followed the course of the stars. From early cave paintings to the Hubble Telescope humanity has endeavoured to understand and represent our universe in all of its startling beauty. This small selection of materials from the Map Room’s collection allows us to view the timeless wonders beyond our humble home.
  • Soviet Secrets: A selection of the Map Room’s Soviet Military maps - a fraction of many hundreds of thousands of maps that the Soviet Military secretly compiled before, during and after the Cold War.
  • Finding Fantasy: A selection of fantasy and imaginary maps and atlases.
  • Mysterious Cities of Gold: The legend of El Dorado and Sir Walter Raleigh's quest to find it.
  • Pictures, Perspectives and Maps: A look at the changing styles of cartography used to map our cities and towns. See the blog post at here.
  • History on Maps: Examples from historical alases of India.
  • Mappy Christmas: A selection of maps with a Christmas theme (2013)
  • Bought by Friends: Maps Purchased by the Friends of Cambridge University Library. 
    Each year the Acquisitions Committee of the Friends of Cambridge University Library meets to view a selection of items presented by Library staff. From these the Committee selects those items it would like the Friends to purchase or make a contribution towards. The maps on display were purchased by the Friends in 2012 and 2013.
  • Pride and Prejudice: 200 years in print. About the early publication history of the novel, guest curated by Dr Chloe Preedy of the Faculty of English.
  • Mapping Middle Earth
  • Virginia Dare, 18 August 1587 – ? 425th anniversay of the birth of first child to be born of English descent on American soil
  • Inspired by Beck
  • Staten Island
  • Particulars of Sale
  • May Week at Cambridge


Image credit: extract from Maps.c.18.H.116

Opening hours


9:00-12:45 and 14:00-17:10 *


9:00-12:45 and 14:00-16:50 *


Closed **

* Monday to Friday 12:45-14:00: If you wish to continue working through the lunch period we can transfer items to the Munby Rare Books Reading Room.

** Items ordered before 12.45 on Friday can be consulted in the Manuscripts Reading Room. No fetching or transferring is possible on Saturdays. Please contact the Map Room to discuss your requirements.

Contact us

Map Department 
Cambridge University Library 
West Road 
CB3 9DR 


+44 (0) 1223 333041
+44 (0) 1223 333042