Mapping Imagination: The Art of World-Building

By Administrator RSS Mon, March 6, 2023

Mapping Imagination: The Art of World-Building opens Monday, March 6 on the Third Floor of Parkway Central Library and has been extended to run through August 31, 2023.

Whether real or imaginary, maps guide travelers, define characteristics of a region, and illustrate values and perspectives. 

How did the location of Marvel’s Wakanda come to fruition? What’s the fastest way to get Link through the Overworld in the videogame The Legend of Zelda? How can a subway map help you navigate the television series Firefly? 

The Free Library’s newest exhibition, Mapping Imagination: The Art of World-Building, is a collaboration between the Map Collection and Children’s Literature Research Collection that explores the creative and artistic choices that mapmakers use to build worlds and enhance storytelling. Traditional maps of real places dating from the 17th century to present, are displayed beside imaginary maps from various genres — fantasy, science fiction, graphic novels, and more — to highlight the role artistic and creative decisions play in building and characterizing real and fantastical worlds. Mapping Imagination features tactile maps and an audio narration to supplement your exhibition experience.

Visit Mapping Imagination: The Art of World-Building, located on the Third Floor of Parkway Central Library. The exhibition is open Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Admission is free.


Click here to see events related to Mapping Imagination.Events

Check out the Library’s Events page for related programs and tours. 




Click here to view a booklist of items featured in the exhibition.Book List

Want to learn more? Check out this book list to discover the materials featured in Mapping Imagination!




Click here to visit the exhibition's Spotify playlistSpotify Playlist

Hear songs from or inspired by the works on display! 




Learn more about the Free Library's Map Collection and Children’s Literature Research Collection.

Mapping Imagination: The Art of World-Building and its related programming are made possible by generous support from the Lindback Foundation, the Dolfinger-McMahon Foundation, and the Independence Foundation. The exhibition would not have been possible without the work of staff members from the Free Library of Philadelphia and Free Library of Philadelphia Foundation across many divisions and departments as well as the members of its Exhibition Review Committee. Sincere thanks to the Clovernook Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired for providing accessibility features as well as continued assistance and guidance.

Have a question for Free Library staff? Please submit it to our Ask a Librarian page and receive a response within two business days.

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Pegguy PETIT COMPERE - Philadelphia
Tuesday, March 14, 2023

How long does the exhibition run for?
Wednesday, March 15, 2023

I was wondering the same thing. It looks amazing. My mother in law is visiting the end of April. Will it still be up then?
Leann Stover Nyce - Philadelphia
Sunday, March 26, 2023

Hello all! The exhibition will run through the end of July! -Chris
Chris, FLP - Free Library of Philadelphia
Tuesday, April 11, 2023

Ruth - Philadelphia
Wednesday, April 19, 2023

Hello all - the exhibition has been extended through August 31, 2023!
Chris - Philadelphia
Wednesday, July 12, 2023