Exhibition on 'the map that changed the world' | University of Oxford
Map
William Smith published the first geological map of England and Wales in 1815

Oxford University Museum of Natural History / Natural History Museum

Exhibition on 'the map that changed the world'

Matt Pickles

200 years ago William Smith published the first geological map of England and Wales. A new exhibition at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History tells the story of the life of Smith, the 'father of geology'.

The exhibition is called 'Handwritten in Stone: How William Smith and his maps changed geology', and runs from this Friday (9 October) to 31 January 2016.

The Museum holds the largest archive of Smith material in the world and many of its treasures will be shown in the exhibition. The map will be shown alongside Smith’s personal papers, drawings, publications and other maps, in addition to fossil material from the Museum's collections.

Visitors can also see the oldest geological map in the world – a map of Bath drawn in 1799 by Smith.

Smith was born in Oxfordshire and he conceived his geological theories and created maps single-handedly. His story was made famous with the publication of Simon Winchester's 'The Map that Changed the World' in 2001. Mr Winchester will give a talk at the Museum on Tuesday 13 October. Tickets can be booked here.

Smith's approach to mapping remains in use today. On 3 November, Oxford's Professor of Earth Sciences Mike Searle will give a lecture at the Museum on how he himself has used Smith's techniques to map the Himalaya, combining it with modern techniques.

The exhibition was supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.