I’m sorry if you’ve come to this for some juicy gossip about the actual Boston Globe. But while I’ve got you here, there’s a cool sight in Boston that I only recently found out about, despite having been making relatively frequent visits to the city since 2012.
The Mary Baker Eddy Library has this pretty ingenius Mapparium: a three-story, stained-glass globe that you walk inside. The countries are inverted but remain exactly the position they would be on an ordinary globe.
Except, there’s something different about this globe. If you looked at it unaware, you’d be confused as to why Czechoslovakia is still together or why on earth (ha) does the Phillipines have USA underneath it? Why is Britain all over the place? Lastly, what’s that about there being a place called ‘Chosen’?!
This is a globe that shows how the world looked in 1935. That’s when this globe was completed (designed by Chester Lindsay Churchill), and I’m very happy it’s made it this far, barely changed. Did you know why the countries were so different? We know Czechoslovakia became Czech Republic and Slovakia in 1993 (a lot more recent than I realised); the Phillipines was a Commonwealth of the USA until 1946 (with a brief Japanese rule during the war); Britain’s empire still had a stronghold; and ‘Chosen’ is actually Korea – in 1935, it was under Japanese rule and named Chosen.
The #MappariumMonday Facebook album has more of these fun facts.
When entering the tour around the Mapparium, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect – just a pretty globe, really, while someone spoke about it. But the globe itself had its own voice in its ‘World of Ideas’ presentation. Lights guided you around the globe with music appropriate for each country/continent, showing how ideas changed the world. What impressed and moved me was the use of quotes from strong leaders around the world. In unison with the music and the sight of the globe literally all around me, it hit me how you can feel so little but realise how an individual can stand out.
It gave a great message I think we all forget from one time to another: ideas are the force that makes the world change and progress. As I listened and watched, it reinforced the thought I always have of why wouldn’t everyone want to explore and see what’s out there?! There’s so much to find out and blow your mind.
Another brilliant thing about this place was the acoustics. After the presentation ended, we messed around with the way the structure effected sound. I stood at one end of the room while Alan stood at the other and we whispered to each other. We heard each other as though we were right next to one another. It’s the way the sound bounces and curves around the shape of the globe to reach the other person’s ears.
The other acoustic made me feel quite uncomfortable, despite how fun it is. Stand in the middle of the globe and your voice is victim to surround sound. Everyone can hear you (hence my discomfort, not enjoying the sound of my own voice).
Thank you to the Mary Baker Eddy library for the visit and being so friendly and welcoming. Also, for surrounding me with great quotes (had amazing fun in the gift shop with all of them).