Love maps? This exhibit is for you

NACIS map exhibit
The North American Cartographic Information Society is inviting the public to view more than 100 maps on display during the group's annual conference.

Map enthusiasts from around the world converged in Minneapolis this week to attend the North American Cartographic Information Society's annual conference downtown.

For the first time, the NACIS is inviting the public to view more than 100 maps the group has on display, ranging from posters with smartphone-friendly codes to intricate maps hand-drawn by children.

A standout piece is the Bad River interactive floor map, which measures 20 by 30 feet. The map is a collaboration between author Jessie Conway and the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe, and includes tribe members' written stories alongside the details of the landscape. Visitors are encouraged to walk on it and add their stories in marker.

Mathew Dooley, associate professor of geography at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, said it's an example of the future of mapping, as well as the past.

"As we have new digital tools that allow normal people to make maps, we've almost seen a democratization in cartography where people can map their own environment," he said.

Dooley sees pieces like the Bad River floor map as examples of the ways people express their own environment and invite others into it.

Asked whether physical maps are becoming more art than science, he said, "it's like a Venn diagram. Science is on one side and art is on the other end, and most cartographers fall in between those two realms."

The map gallery and Tangible Map exhibit is free and open to the public at the Depot through Friday.

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