Chicago exhibit to feature famous maps

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You have a world atlas on your desk. With a few mouse clicks, you can print out door-to-door directions through the Internet. Then there's the GPS device mounted on your car's windshield.

With Americans possessing more tools than ever to help get them where they want to go, an upcoming Field Museum exhibit will route how maps have changed over the centuries and how various cultures have chosen to depict the world.

"Maps: Finding Our Place in the World" will feature more than 130 famous or prized maps. Organizers, who will officially announce the show Friday, are billing it as the most ambitious cartography exhibit ever in North America.

Pieces confirmed for display include a 3,500-year-old clay tablet detailing walls, gates and palaces in the town of Nippur in what is now Iraq; three drawings by Leonardo da Vinci rarely lent from the English royal collection; the map Charles Lindbergh carried with him on his history-making flight from New York to Paris; and drawings by author J.R.R. Tolkien of his fictional Middle-earth.

"We were successful beyond our wildest imaginations," said James Akerman, one of the exhibit's curators and director of the Newberry Library's Center for the History of Cartography.

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