The newly relocated Frances C. Poage Map Room was Archivist Ellen Brown’s brainchild. She thought there needed to be a larger, better organized, user-friendly space for our growing map collection. Room 201 on the 2nd floor of Carroll Library was ideally located for crafting and creating this space. The challenge was keeping the space functional and inviting–not merely drawers of black steel.
While working on the new interior design, we recognized that the character of the 1903 library structure needed to shine forth. After much effort, the Poage map room has become a happy union of functionality and warmth. The countertops are made of marble that is similar to the original marble used on the entrance steps. The dark cherry wood makes the room seem more like a home library rather than a university map room. The large 9 X 9 foot table anchors the room and invites you to sit awhile in comfortable Windsor chairs and dwell on places you have never been.
Two determined students, Robin and Travis, put the maps in order, preserved them, and protected the fragile ones in Mylar. Once order was returned to the space, thoughts of showcasing some of our maps through an exhibition seemed the next logical step, but we wondered how best to display them. Seeing the first framed map relieved my anxiety about framing. A 340-year old map was elegantly attired in acid-free matting, UV-protected glass, and a black-gilded framing befitting a Spanish map. Instead of a tattered bit of paper, the map was a thing of beauty, telling a story about exploration, discovery, heartache, fortunes won and lost.
The “map room project” has been a source of great joy, learning, hard work, and pride. We hope it will be a destination for scholars and Texas enthusiasts for many years to come.
John S. Wilson
Interim Director. The Texas Collection