“Wilde Americk”: Discovery and Exploration of the New World, 1500–1850

Drawing primarily from the Center’s permanent collection, this exhibition featured some of the great landmarks in the mapping and exploration of the New World, from the great Age of Discovery to the mid-nineteenth century.

Along with printed maps, atlases, and illustrated travel accounts, some extraordinary manuscript material was exhibited, including the first public display in almost fifty years of a spectacular, hand-drawn terrestrial globe, probably created around 1522 by the astronomer and mathematician Johannes Schoner—the third oldest world sphere to survive. Also on display was John Barnwell’s manuscript map of the southeastern part of North America, drawn in 1721, an important political document forming the basis of subsequent mapping of the area until the American Revolution. The exhibition featured one of the Center’s great treasures, the earliest surviving manuscript map showing the route of Sir Francis Drake’s circumnavigation of 1577–80, produced for Queen Elizabeth I around 1587.

View works from the collection included in this exhibition here.


“Wilde Americk” was organized by Elisabeth Fairman, Curator of Rare Books and Archives at the Center.

Top image
Baptista Boazio, The Famouse West Indian voyadge made by the Englishe Fleete of 23 shippes and Barkes wherin weare gotten the Townes of St . Iago, Sto. Domingo, Cartagena and St. Augustines, the same beinge begon from Plimmouth in the Moneth of September 1585 and ended at Portesmouth in Iulie 1586  (detail), 1589, hand-colored engraving, Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection