Mapping the Past: Selections from the Thomas J. Cooney Collection

August 5, 2017 - January 28, 2018

cooney map

Map makers have the unique ability to collapse both time and space in their works. Mapping the Past explores what mapping means both in the technical sense and in the metaphorical sense, looking beyond pure cartography for deeper meaning.

Most of the works collected here, which were recently gifted to the Museum by Thomas J. Cooney, date to the 17th century. As new scientific understanding developed at that time, cartographers were intent on accurately depicting the known world by applying theories of the physical universe.

Although mathematical and scientific accuracy were important to map makers, because their works were also highly sought after by armchair travelers who longed to know and understand other cultures, maps also revealed significant biases of the time. The relatively recent discovery of the Americas, as well as expanded contact with the cultures of the East, greatly increased public interest in distant lands.

Organized by the Boise Art Museum

Sponsored by Thomas J. Cooney in memory of Joan Chapman Cooney


Come see how contemporary artists use maps and mapping to explore complex social issues in Mapping the Present: Selections from the Collection of Driek and Michael Zirinsky, opening February 17, 2018.


IMAGE: Justus Danckerts, Nova Totius Terrarum Orbis Tabula ex officina Iusti Danckerts Amstelodami, c. 1680, engraving, hand colored, 19 ¾” x 23 ½”, Gift of Joan and Thomas Cooney, Boise Art Museum Permanent Collection.

HEADER IMAGE: Georg Braun and Franz Hogenberg, Tricaricvm Basilicatae Civitas (detail), 17th century, engraving, hand colored, 12 ⅛” x 19 ¾”, Gift of Joan and Thomas Cooney, Boise Art Museum Permanent Collection.