Climate Mapping at the Normal B. Leventhal Map Center

New Exhibition Exploring Climate and Weather Patterns through Maps at The Norman B. Leventhal Map Center 
“Regions and Seasons” is open to the public now through August 27, 2017
Boston, MA – The Norman B. Leventhal Map Center announced today the opening of its new exhibition Regions and Seasons: Mapping Climate through History, exploring the long and storied history of mapping climate and related weather events. Visitors are invited to explore the evolution of cartographic innovation across five centuries, comparing the gradual sophistication of climatic data mapping with modern day digital technology and the varying impacts of their findings. 
Regions and Seasons features over sixty maps and three-dimensional objects related to the capture of weather data and depiction of the mapping of climate zones, wind direction, ocean currents and more, dating from the 15th century to present day. Visitors will learn about climate and weather-related imagery found on maps throughout history, starting with the “Venti”, the wind personas of the classical era, long thought by sailors to direct the seas, and “Horae”, the goddesses of the seasons who were thought to determine the natural order of events. Next, throughout the age of Enlightenment, cartographers began to depict recurring weather events as well as seasonal trade winds, when efficient navigation was critical to the success of the frequent expeditions from England to Asia. As science moved to the forefront during this era, the increased focus on data capture is reflected in the more complex maps of the time and beyond, representing vast amounts of statistical information to further public understanding of the varying climate patterns of different geographic locations. The exhibition will also explore the challenges posed by changing weather patterns and will look at Boston’s evolution  as a coastal city throughout  history, featuring depictions of the city before and after the completion of The Back Bay project.
The final section of the exhibition explores the unique risks faced by iconic parts of the city as a result of sea-level rise and storms. Courtesy of Climate Ready Boston, the Norman B. Leventhal Center for Advanced Urbanism, MIT, MassDOT and the Federal Highway Administration, the exhibition will include several depictions of the neighborhoods, public transportation lines, and attractions of Boston that will face severe flooding and potential submersion should sea levels rise annually in accordance with current projections, as well as the infrastructure needed to combat these changes.
“Maps present a unique window into the way people across centuries knew and understood the world around them,” said Stephanie Cyr, Assistant Curator at the Leventhal Map Center. “We hope that through this exhibit, people can gain an appreciation for the evolution of this understanding and start to have meaningful conversations about the impact of changing climatic conditions on future generations here in Boston and around the world.”
The public is also invited to attend the following programming hosted by the Leventhal Map Center in conjunction with the exhibit; highlights include a discussion with meteorologist Dave Epstein about how a changing climate is affecting the weather of New England, “Visualizing Climate: A Panel Bridging Art, Science, and Policy” – a discussion on how different approaches to climate visualization contribute to today’s urgent discourse about climate change, and a series of events during April vacation week curated for children ages Pre-K and up.
Author Talk: The Four Shorelines of Coastal Cartography
Tuesday, May 2, 2017 | 6:00 pm | Commonwealth Salon
Dr. Mark Monmonier, Distinguished Professor of Geography at Syracuse University talks about his book Coast Lines addressing the history of mapping coastlines as background for understanding the growing concern over sea level rise.  Efforts to map storm surge and sea level rise exemplify the emergence of time as a cartographic frontier in the 19th and 20th centuries.  Evolving scientific understanding of physical processes and numerical modeling add to the discussion.
Leventhal Map Center Curator Talk
Annotated Atlases: Unraveling Personal Stories
Thursday, March 9, 2017, 6:00 pm | Commonwealth Salon
LMC Curator Ron Grim looks at historical atlases to see who owned them, what they used them for and how they came to be part of the BPL collection.  Items examined include a 1525 Strasburg edition of Claudius Ptolemy’s Geographia, a John Speed volume owned by a “drunken fellow” and maps purchased by Benjamin Franklin and given to the Library one hundred years later.
Is Boston Prepared for Climate Change?
Thursday, June 29, 2017 | 6:00 pm | Commonwealth Salon
The impacts of climate change may be especially hard on Boston.  Find out about these challenges and the vigorous planning effort “Climate Ready Boston,” led by the City of Boston in partnership with the Green Ribbon Commission.  Bud Ris, long time climate expert and member of the Commission, explains how our climate will change, who will be affected, and what can be done to make Boston as resilient as possible.
Predicting New England Weather: Can It Be Done?
Tuesday, July 11, 2017 | 6:00 pm | Rabb Hall
Meteorologist Dave Epstein talks about how a changing climate is affecting New England’s weather and what some of the models predict the future to look like.  
Visualizing Climate: A Panel Bridging Art, Science, and Policy
July 20, 6:00 – 7:30 pm | Rabb Hall
How do we visualize climate? The Leventhal Map Center is excited to host a panel of experts for a cross-disciplinary discussion about climate visualization, and how different approaches contribute to today’s urgent discourse about climate change.
Calling All Weather Experts!
Tuesday, April 18, 11 am – 2 pm | Leventhal Map Center
Explore the science of weather, from wind and ocean currents to tornadoes and hurricanes. Record the day’s weather in our observation station and create your own simple tools to measure the weather. Play with an Augmented Reality Sandbox courtesy of Cambridge Science Festival and Science on the Street. (Ages 6-12)
Thunder, Lightning, Twisters, and Tweens
Tuesday, April 18, 5:00 – 6:00 pm | Children’s Library
Kids ages 8-13 are invited to join our weather-wise friends in the Children’s Library in conducting indoor experiments to discover how the weather works. (Ages 8-13)
Be a Weather Watcher
Wednesday, April 19, 11 am-12 pm | Leventhal Map Center
Co-presented by the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center and the Blue Hills Observatory and Science Center
Learn about weather instruments by building your own! Create an anemometer, and use your instrument to measure and record the wind. Complete a weather quiz and scavenger hunt in our gallery, and explore our weather stations. Note: the program is free but registration is required. Sign up at (Ages 5-9)
Kite Making Workshop
Wednesday, April 19, 1:00 – 2:00 pm | Commonwealth Salon
Co-presented by the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center and the Blue Hills Observatory and Science Center
You may be blown away to learn that kites have long been used by scientists to observe the weather! Learn more about these kites and build your own – it’s a breeze! Note: the program is free but registration is required. Sign up at (Ages 7 and up)
Toto the Tornado Kitten
Thursday, April 20, 2:00 – 2:45 pm | Children’s Library
After a terrible tornado in 2011, the clean-up crew found an itty-bitty kitten in the wreckage. The courageous kitten was named Toto and nursed back to health by a rescue worker named Jonathan and his wife, Amy, along with a team of veterinarians and the Animal Rescue League of Boston. Jonathan went on to write a children’s book about Toto’s adventure. Join Jonathan and Toto for a read-along of Toto the Tornado Kitten, followed by a craft activity! (Ages 3 and up)
Any Way the Wind Blows
Friday, April 21, 10 am-5 pm
Enjoy Regions and Seasons and visit our Learning Center for an all-day free play, complete with a scavenger hunt, games, puzzles and coloring pages. (All ages)
Guided tours will be offered on the first Wednesday and third Friday of every month 12:30-1:00pm.  
Regions and Seasons: Mapping Climate throughout History is open Monday-Thursday 10am-7pm; Friday-Saturday 10am-5 pm; and Sunday 1-5pm. Visit our exhibition website at
The exhibition and all events take place at the Boston Public Library’s Central Library, Copley Square, 700 Boylston Street, Boston, MA.
The Norman B. Leventhal Map Center is ranked among the top map centers in the United States for the size of its collection, the significance of its historic (pre-1900) material, and its advanced digitization program. It is unique among the major collections because it also combines these features with exceptional educational and teacher training programs to advance geographic literacy among students in grades K-12 and enhance the teaching of subjects from history to mathematics to language arts. The collection is also the second largest in the country located in a public library, ensuring unlimited access to these invaluable resources for scholars, educators, and the general public. The Leventhal Map Center, incorporated in 2007 as a nonprofit organization, was established by philanthropist Norman Leventhal as a public-private partnership with the Boston Public Library. Its mission is to use the Boston Public Library’s permanent collection of 200,000 maps and 5,000 atlases and a select group of rare maps collected by Mr. Leventhal for the enjoyment and education of all through exhibitions, educational programs, and a website that includes thousands of digitized maps at The map collection is global in scope, dating from the 15th century to the present, with particular strengths in maps and atlases of Boston, Massachusetts, New England, the American Revolutionary War era, urban maps, and nautical charts. To learn more, visit .
Boston Public Library has a Central Library, twenty-four branches, map center, business library, and a website filled with digital content and services. Established in 1848, the Boston Public Library has pioneered public library service in America. It was the first large free municipal library in the United States, the first public library to lend books, the first to have a branch library, and the first to have a children’s room. Each year, the Boston Public Library hosts thousands of programs and serves millions of people. All of its programs and exhibitions are free and open to the public. At the Boston Public Library, books are just the beginning. To learn more, visit
William C. Woodbridge (1794-1845)
“Isothermal Chart, or, View of Climates and Productions; Drawn from the Accounts of Humboldt & Others,” in Modern Atlas, on a New Plan, to Accompany the System of Universal Geography
Hartford, CT, 1831. Reproduction, 2017.