Point of Beginning

Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture Hosts Mapmaker Exhibit

August 1, 2006
The Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture (MAC) is proud to bring to the Inland Northwest the historically significant exhibit The Mapmaker's Eye: David Thompson on the Columbia Plateau.

The Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture (MAC) is proud to bring to the Inland Northwest the historically significant exhibit The Mapmaker's Eye: David Thompson on the Columbia Plateau.

In 1807, Canadian David Thompson crested the Continental Divide and gazed west at uncharted territory. He came to explore the Columbia River, and over the next five years completed the first scientific survey of its entire length. Thompson was not just a geographer, but also a fur trader, ambassador to the native tribes, citizen of the British Empire and a naturalist. His arrival was a catalyst for revolutionary change in the Inland Northwest.

Visitors will get a first-hand sense of Thompson's journeys. His original journals, maps and mountain sketches of our Columbia Plateau provide the narrative and visual thread of the exhibit. Field sketches by Paul Kane and Henry James Warre, who followed Thompson's routes through the Inland Northwest during the early 19th century, add powerful images of the region's geography and native people. Surveying instruments from the Smithsonian Institution offer a scientific perspective. Plateau Indian and fur trade artifacts enhance Thompson's lively descriptions of the people, geography and challenges that fur traders, explorers and native people faced as they made contact.

Thompson's perspective broadens the nation's Lewis & Clark Bicentennial commemoration and represents the larger Northwest story of British, Americans, and Native people. This exhibition also previews Canada's upcoming David Thompson Bicentennial, 2007-2011.

The Mapmaker's Eye: David Thompson on the Columbia Plateau opened on October 8, 2005 and runs through September 3, 2006.