Personal love of map making brings Provost to atlas exhibit

Primary tabs

“A Gathering of Continents,” a rare exhibition of Georgia Tech’s editions of Joan Blaeu’s Grooten Atlas, will wrap up its run July 10 at the Robert C. Williams Museum of Papermaking after more than four months on display.

But before the atlases are removed from view, one well-known name had to see the rare collection – not as a representative of Georgia Tech, but as a collector himself.

Dr. Rafael Bras, who has been a collector for years, said Georgia Tech was incredibly fortunate to have the nine volume Atlas in its collection of rare books, and the campus was just as fortunate the exhibit could be housed at the museum and open to the public.

“It is a wonderfully well put together exhibit,” Dr. Bras noted. “I cannot imagine a more appropriate exhibition at the Williams Paper Museum. The Blaeu Atlas represents the best of cartography of the time, the best of paper making and extraordinarily beautiful illustrations of our world.”

As a collector, Dr. Bras said he continues to be in awe of both the science and beauty of the art form.

“To a map collector like me, Blaeu is like the da Vinci of cartographers of the golden 17th century period when the Netherlands dominated map making. I collect them because of what they teach me of the evolution knowledge of the geography of our work and because they simply are beautiful works of art.”

The preservation and care of these maps is equally impressive to Bras.

“I never cease to be amazed at how these Atlases and maps survive after more than 300 years of wandering around the world.”

Museum Director Teri Williams said Bras’ visit underscored the level of interest the exhibit has received since opening in February.

“The appeal is massive and so diverse,” she said. “We’ve had hundreds of visitors, from school children and college students to historians and collectors. It has been an incredible honor to house this collection.”

The museum was joined by Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts and Georgia Tech’s Price Gilbert Memorial Library in sponsoring the exhibit, which gives visitors a unique passport back in time to the early mappings of the earth.

Exhibited maps include European views of Africa, the Americas and Asia, depicting important trade routes and ports. Detailed views of European cities and countries provide insight into a continent developing the geopolitical regions known today. Original volumes of the atlas will be on exhibit along with reproductions of select maps from the collection.

Visitors will follow the advancements of this revolutionary era as the study of astronomy, the development of papermaking, printmaking and mapmaking culminate in Blaeu’s atlas. A second-generation mapmaker, his extensive research and attention to detail provide important examples of evolving cartographic technologies and rich material exploring the idea of Europe after the Thirty Years War.

For more information regarding the exhibit, please visit or call 404.894.7840.



  • Workflow Status:Published
  • Created By:Kelly Smith
  • Created:06/17/2015
  • Modified By:Fletcher Moore
  • Modified:10/07/2016