Let map exhibition travel worldwide

The National Library has been holding the exhibition GeoGraphic: Celebrating Maps And Their Stories ("Tracing S'pore history in rare, old maps"; Jan 16).

The exhibition featured 140 maps, with the oldest dating to 1478.

There were not only maps from our national collection, but also maps on loan from museums and libraries in Europe - including the British Library, the National Archives of the United Kingdom, and the Utrecht University Library of the Netherlands - as well as private collectors.

One of the curators, Ms Tan Huism, who conducted tours of the exhibition, said that even if we travelled to Britain, we would not have the opportunity to see the first map of Singapore, made in 1819 by a member of Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles' landing party.

Another interesting item was a series of maps, marked "Most Secret", of the British Army's mapping of Japanese troops' movement down the Malay Peninsula until the day Singapore fell.

Our national map collection is something to crow about. I understand that the National Archives, National Library Board and museums here collectively hold some 40,000 maps.

These maps and related video interviews and photographs deserve to have a permanent exhibition space.

In addition, we could also reciprocate the generous loans from the various institutions, and co-curate an international travelling exhibition.

This is one way of leveraging on the rigorous research and discipline that went into this exhibition to put Singapore on the world map.

Catherine Lim Suat Hong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 16, 2015, with the headline 'Let map exhibition travel worldwide'. Print Edition | Subscribe