Plymouth State Museum of the White Mountains Opens: “Wayfinding: Maps of the White Mountains” Exhibit

The Museum of the White Mountains at Plymouth State University (PSU) recently opened its first in-person exhibition since the pandemic. “Wayfinding: Maps of the White Mountains” explores the long history of maps and map makers of the White Mountains of New Hampshire.

A LiDAR image of Franconia Notch. LiDAR, which stands for Light Detection and Ranging, is a remote sensing method that uses light in the form of a pulsed laser to measure ranges (variable distances) to the Earth.
Image courtesy of New Hampshire Geological Survey.

The White Mountain Region has a long history of maps and map makers, and boasts one of the richest assortment of map designs of any mountainous region in the U.S. Each map describes specific places and routes, and also tells a story of the knowledge, curiosity, purposes, pleasures, and design ideas of the people of its time. This exhibition features maps from the far and recent past, as well as new map tools and technology for today’s hikers, tourists, scientists, weekend explorers, and enthusiasts. 

“We are thrilled to welcome back visitors to the Museum, and proud to offer this interesting and dynamic exhibit on wayfinding in the White Mountains,” said Cynthia Cutting, Director of the Museum of the White Mountains. “The maps, images, tools and technology on display are fascinating, and tell stories of the White Mountains region through the perspective of the map makers, hikers and others who created them. And with the explosion in the number of people hiking and exploring the outdoors as a result of the pandemic, this exhibit is particularly timely.”

Co-curated by Adam Apt with support from David Govatski, the exhibition also features a special series of related lectures and presentations through September 2021, including:

  • Topography, 3D Art, and the NH 4000 Foot Club, July 22
  • Wayfinding in Their Own Words: Historical Journals, Maps and Hikers of the White Mountains, July 27
  • Digital Cartography: How does recent technology impact our historical understanding of the White Mountains?, August 4
  • Hidden Stories: Looking into the Lives of our Wild Neighbors, August 12
  • Mapping a Mid-19th Century Surveying Conflict, August 17
  • Mapping the Ice Age Geology of the White Mountains, New Hampshire, September 15

The programs are presented live via Zoom, and include an opportunity for questions and answers. There is no cost to attend, but pre-registration is required.

A Scarboroughs topographical map of the White Mountains.

The Museum of the White Mountains is currently limiting the number of visitors in the building to 15 people at a time, and groups to 10 or fewer. Visitors are asked to register online and schedule a date and time prior to visiting, however, walk-ups will be permitted on a case-by-case basis.

For information about Wayfinding: Maps of the White Mountains, including a full description of each lecture, and to schedule a visit or register for the presentations, visit: www.plymouth.edu/mwm/exhibitions

The 2021 Wayfinding Speaker Series was made possible with support from New Hampshire Humanities, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The Museum of the White Mountains is grateful for the additional support and advice from David Govatski, Adam Keul, PSU Assistant Professor of Tourism Management and Policy and Summer Speaker Series Humanist, Marcia Schmidt Blaine, former PSU Professor of History, and Trail Clubs.