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lunedì, febbraio 01, 2010

Largest book in the world goes on show for the first time | Books | The Guardian


Largest book in the world goes on show for the first time | Books | The Guardian: "Largest book in the world goes on show for the first time

Klencke Atlas, which is 350 years old, will be displayed as part of British Library exhibition on maps


The Klencke Atlas has never been publicly displayed with its pages open before. Photograph: British Library

It takes six people to lift it and has been recorded as the largest book in the world, yet the splendid Klencke Atlas, presented to Charles II on his restoration and now 350 years old, has never been publicly displayed with its pages open. That glaring omission is to be rectified, it was announced by the British Library today, when it will be displayed as one of the stars of its big summer exhibition about maps.

The summer show will feature about 100 maps, considered some of the greatest in the world, with three-quarters of them going on display for the first time.

At the exhibition's core will be wall maps, many of them huge, which tell a story that is much more than geography. Many of them, said the library's head of map collections, Peter Barber: 'Hold their own with great works of art.'

He added: 'This is the first map exhibition of its type because, normally, when you think of maps you think of geography, or measurement or accuracy.'

The exhibition aims to challenge people's assumptions about maps and celebrate their magnificence, as demonstrated by the 37 maps in the Klencke Atlas, which was intended as an encyclopaedic summary of the world.

It is almost absurdly huge – 1.75 metres (5ft) tall and 1.9 metres (6ft) wide – and was given to the king by Dutch merchants and placed in his cabinet of curiosities.

'It is going to be quite a spectacle,' said Tom Harper, head of antiquarian maps. 'Even standing beside it is quite unnerving.'

As a contrast, one of the smallest maps in the world, a fingernail-sized German coin from 1773 showing a bird's eye view of Nuremberg, will be exhibited close by.
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