Nick Bauch, Launching Enchanting the Desert, May 16, 2016

Current Events  


Deadline Approaching! : California Map Society / Rumsey Map Center Student Essay Competition

We are submissions for the California Map Society Student Essay Competition. The competition is open to undergraduate and graduate students in California that use the Center's map resources in a substantive way. 

Submission Deadline: 9 AM  PST on March 11, 2019

Winner Notification: the winner will be notified the week of April 8, 2019.

Winner Paper Presentation: May 10, 2019 - Rumsey Map Center and May 11, 2019 - Southern California location.

For competition rules, submission guidelines and links, please visit this page.


 Thursday, April 11, 2019 | City Models: From Panstereorama to the Present, a talk with Patrick Ellis

On April 11, 2019 The David Rumsey Map Center will host a talk with Patrick Ellis about City Models: From Panstereorama to the Present

David Rumsey recently digitized an immense model of San Francisco built by the WPA. It includes every structure of the city circa 1939, carved in miniature. Historians of cartography swap stories of such models today; they are uncommon cartographic spectacles—one cast in stone, here; another printed in plastic, there. At one time, these models were common enough to warrant their own designated name: panstereoramas.

Based on material that will appear in Ellis’ forthcoming book, Aeroscopics: Media Archaeology of the Bird’s Eye View, this talk will survey the phenomenon of the miniature, model city—from plan-relief, to panstereorama, to the present—focusing in particular on such objects in the Balloon Era. At that time, the model city, heretofore a military artifact, was repurposed as a mass media approximation of the aerial view. The intrinsic scale effects of miniaturizing a city for a cartographic purpose doubled as the visual effects of elevation: these were maps that also served as balloon rides.

Patrick Ellis (PhD, Berkeley) is a Brittain Postdoctoral Fellow at the Georgia Institute of Technology. His book, Aeroscopics: Media Archaeology of the Bird’s-Eye View (University of California Press), will provide a history of aerial vision in the era prior to commonplace flight. He works at the intersection of the histories of cartography, media, and technology. He has published in The British Journal for the History of Science, Cinema Journal, Early Popular Visual Culture, and Imago Mundi. As a curator, he has organized exhibits and screenings at the Center for Puppetry Arts, retroTECH, the Pacific Film Archive, and the Wolfsonian Museum.

Doors open: 2.30 pm
Event: 3.00 - 4.00 pm
Center Closes: 4.30 pm

The talk is free but requires advance registration. Please register here.


Friday, May 10, 2019 | California Map Society / Rumsey Map Center Annual Lecture and Student Essay Competition Winner Talks

Stephen Hornsby and Cover of Picturing America: The Golden Age of Pictorial Maps

On May 10, 2019 our annual lecture series co-sponsored by the California Map Society will feature Dr. Stephen Hornsby, director of the Canadian-American Center and Professor of Geography and Canadian Studies at the University of Maine. His research focuses on the historical geography of northeastern North America and the Atlantic world, and on the history of cartography. He has written and co-edited several prize-winning books, including Surveyors of Empire: Samuel Holland, J.F.W. Des Barres, and the Making of the Atlantic Neptune (2011), Historical Atlas of Maine (2015), and Picturing America: The Golden Age of Pictorial Maps (2017).  Among his current research projects and the subject of his talk is the impact of the hippie counter-culture on popular cartography. This topic should appeal to those interested in the history of American cartography and who lived through and experienced the hippie movement in the Bay area.

The Rumsey Center program will also feature the winner of the California Map Society/Rumsey Map Center Graduate Student Essay Competition 


Doors open 2.30 pm

3.00 pm: TBD: Student Essay Competition Winner

4.00 pm: Professor Stephen Hornsby

5.30 pm: Center Closes 

The talks are free but require advanced registration. Please register here.


Save the Date! Coordinates: Maps and Art Exploring Shared Terrain | Thursday, April 25th, 2019 


On April 25th, 2019 The David Rumsey Map Center will host an exhibit opening and a day of talks that explore the shared terrain of Maps and Art.

Coordinates: Maps and Art Exploring Shared Terrain - will feature a variety of ways in which the two porous mediums overlap in inquiries about space, both geographical and metaphorical. Artists include Zoe Leonard, Trevor Paglen, Tauba Auerbach, On Kawara, Sol LeWitt, Richard Long, Agnes Denes, John Pfahl, Ed Ruscha, Christo and Jeanne-Claude. In dialogue with the art, will be maps by pioneering cartographers, such as J. C. Fremont, R. Buckminster Fuller, Richard Saul Wurman, Zero per Zero, Charles Joseph Minard, Joseph Salway, F. W. von Egloffstein, J. A. Martignoni, Isaac Frost, Sir David Brewster, and Stanford’s own Dr. Rob Dunbar. On the opening day of April 25th we will host wide-ranging conversations about maps, art, and the cartographic imagination. Speakers include mapmaker David Medeiros, art historian Emanuele Lugligeographer Joshua Jelly-Schapiro, writer Abby Smith Rumsey, CCA Wattis Institute Curator Kim Nguyen and SFMOMA Librarian David Senior.  

The talks are free, but require advanced registration, please register here. To stay informed about the schedule, check out our website and/or watch for e-mails from us. If you are not subscribed to the Rumsey Map Center Newsletter, please e-mail

David Rumsey Map Center Use Guidelines 

Past Events

  • December 6, 2018, Dr. Ed Lu: Charting the High Frontier of Space. For more information visit this page.
  • November 6th, 2018, Mapping Activism. For more information please visit this page and explore the Activism@Stanford exhibit.
  • November 5th, 2018, Panel Discussion: Nature in the City Map. For more information please visit this page.
  • October 24th, 2018, Drawing a continent by hand: a pictorial map of North America. For more information please visit this page.
  • October 18th, 2018, Historical Atlas of Hasidism by Professor Marcin Wodziński. For more information please visit this page. 
  • April 24th, 2018, Understanding Ice: The James B. Case Memorial Symposium. For more information please visit this page.
  • April 5th, 2018, California Map Society Annual Talks and Essay Competition Winner. Men, Myths, and Maps by Imre Demhardt; and Enlightened cartography: Mapping Imperial Russia by Ken Neff.
    For more information visit this page. 
  • March 15th, 2018, Exemplars of Cartography through maps of the Holy Lands. For more information explore the digital collection in Seachworks.
  • March 5th, 2018, Student Activism at Stanford: Map Launch. For more information explore the Activism@Stanford exhibit.
  • February 23, 2018, Making the World Go 'Round: How Urbano Monte Created his Map of 1587. For more information visit this page. 
  • December 7, 2017, Petr Pridal Talk: Old Maps Online, GIS, and Cutting-Edge Technology. For more please visit this page.
  • November 15, 2017, GIS Day. For more, please visit this page.
  • Asian Representations and Constructions of Space
  • May 10, 2018, Maps and Ships: Maritime Trade in the China Seas from the 16th to 18th Centuries. For more information visit this page.
  • March 15, 2018, Visualizing Time and Space through Foreign Eyes in Medieval China: From the Śārdūlakarāvadāna to Amoghavajra’s Xiuyao jing. For more information visit this page.
  • February 12, 2018, Illuminating the World before 1492: China, the Islamic World, and the Cross-Cultural Mapping of Asia; for more information visit this page.
  • October 12, 3pm-5pm; Eric Huntington (Postdoctoral Fellow, Ho Center for Buddhist Studies at Stanford): "Frames of Scale and Geo-Spatial Transformations in the Buddhist Maṇḍala”. For more, visit this page.
  • October 26, 10am-12pm; Jon Felt (Assistant Professor of History, Brigham Young University): "The Empire and the Ecumene: Regionalism After the Han Empire" For more, visit this page.
  • November 27, 10am-12pm; a Joint session with Kären Wigen (Professor of History, Stanford University) and D. Max Moerman (Professor of Asian & Middle Eastern Cultures, Barnard College, Columbia University): "Imagining 'Asia': Foreign and Native Worldviews in Constructions of Early Modern Japanese Cartography”. For more, please visit this page.
  • November 10, 2017, Time in Space: Representing Time in Maps.  For further information, visit this website.Barry Lawrence Ruderman Conference on Cartography, October 19-21, 2017. For more more information, go to the website here.
  • May 20th, 2017, 8.30 am - 9 pm: California Map Society Meeting (One Day Conference, including map talks): Registration and fees. Please visit this page for details.
  • May 4th, 2017, 6 pm: Essay Competition Winner + Richard Brown and Paul Cohen Talk: Free, but registration required. Please Visit this page for details.