[London], J. Sudbury and G. Humbell, 1611.

Maps offer guideposts to orient us in physical space, but they also employ a repertoire of graphic tools to convey overt and covert messages that channel our geographical perceptions. The ornamental features that may now seem little more than decorative embellishments once acted as richly nuanced symbols, analogies, and coded commentaries. This exhibit explores how decorative cartographic devices - cartouches, vignettes, figural borders, title pages, and frontispieces—could provide narrative underpinnings for the geospatial content of maps. To those accustomed to their visual vocabulary, these ornamental elements (whether emblems, insignia, heraldic shields, mythological figures, or allegories) could make an eloquent case for the authority and vision of the mapmaker.