The city of Wageningen (and its immediate surroundings) has an interesting history from fortified city to City of Life Sciences. Because of this, several maps have been made of Wageningen, which not only trace the city's development but which also describe all kinds of subjects that complement the university's working area and the different knowledge institutes. Old maps are interesting for current subjects such as building in the river forelands or the restoration of the original canal with its bulwark. The exhibition 'Wageningen on the Map, a Typology of Maps' in the Forum Library focuses on different types of maps and their usefulness for research.
In the exhibition, the map's purpose was used to classify the pieces typologically. To interpret and to use a map properly, it is important to know which kind of map it is and what the map was made for. The map's purpose often determines which information is emphasised. Using this information, the map's reliability and thus its value for research can be determined. On military maps, for instance, information can be intentionally left off or even be subjective if it the map is meant for reporting, A technical drawing, a plan map or design may also not represent the true situation; the plans have not been or have only partially been carried out. Finally, a general map of buildings or roads is sometimes schematic, which distorts scale and proportions.
Moreover, there is a large divide between topographical and thematic or subject maps. Topographical maps mainly reproduce natural and artificial ground objects that are recognizable in the landscape. In addition to topographical maps, air photos are an important topographical source. Thematic maps emphasize a certain subject, often with different colourings and shading and sometimes with graphics. The topographical information is – or is quite – summary or an earlier topographical mapping is used as a base. Climate maps, public works maps, geological, soil or vegetation maps are examples of thematic maps.
To make the visitor aware of cartography's range, the exhibition has been organised according to map type, but this division also gives a nice picture of Wageningen through the centuries. The exhibition is in the Special Collections' reading room in the Forum Library, from Monday to Friday (9 am – 5 pm), until 10 October 2008.