10 November 2017

Restored 'Tasman map' on display

A rare map found in an attic in Sweden in 2010 will be on display in Australia starting tomorrow, following a delicate conservation process.

This map is one of only four known copies, and was discovered in an attic in Stockholm in 2010. It was purchased by the National Library of Australia in 2013, and after a short exhibition period at the time, has undergone a thorough conservation effort. Now, it's ready to be displayed again.

The map is called Archipelagus Orientalis, sive Asiaticus, Latin for ‘The Eastern or Asian Archipelago’. It was made in 1663 by renowned Dutch cartographer Joan Blaeu. Blaeu was the official cartographer of the Dutch East Indian Company, and his works portrayed the extent of Dutch power in the 17th century.

 Blaeu map, detail - National Library Australia

Blaeu map, detail - National Library Australia

It depicts Hollandia Nova, or New Holland, as mainland Australia was known before the British settlement. All subsequent maps of New Holland were based on this work by Blaeu, and the map is considered “the birth certificate of New Holland” by many in the West.

A text printed on the map tells the story of explorer Abel Tasman’s two voyages in 1642 and 1644. Tasman is known for being the first European to reach Van Diemen’s Land (now Tasmania), New Zealand and Tonga. 

After being acquired by the Library in 2013 and displayed in the exhibition Mapping Our World: Terra Incognita to Australia, the map underwent intense restoration. It will be displayed in the Treasures Gallery for a limited time only.

Preserving the Blaeu map at the National Library in Australia