Monday, December 05, 2016

The Art of Mapping Art


One of the great advantages of flexible JavaScript mapping libraries like Leaflet.js is that they can be used to create far more than just interactive maps. For example, if you swap your map tiles for image tiles, you can quickly create an impressive interactive image viewer.

Last week we looked at how Europeana Labs has used Leaflet.js to create a simple interactive interface for viewing medieval manuscripts. Prophesies About the Papacy allows you to use Leaflet's panning and zooming controls to explore the illustrations and text in the Vaticinia de Summis Pontificibus, a series of prophetic manuscripts dating from the 14th century.

Europeana Labs are not the only developers to use Leaflet to provide a simple interface for exploring images. The Rijksmuseum also uses Leaflet to allow visitors to explore the works of the famous Dutch painter Rembrandt in close detail. The Rijksmuseum's dedicated Rembrandt web page includes a number of the Dutch master's paintings, all of which can be explored in detail using a Leaflet powered interactive image viewer.


The Minneapolis Institute of Art has also used Leaflet to provide an interface to view works of art in its extensive collection. For example this Leaflet map of Christ Driving the Money Changers from the Temple allows you to examine El Greco's painting in all its stunning detail, including the portraits of four other Renaissance painters in the lower right-hand corner.


Of course image viewers created with Leaflet don't have to be confined to presenting the paintings of famous artists. The Getty Museum has used Leaflet to provide a way of exploring the beautiful designs which can be found in Roman mosaics. The Getty's Roman Mosaics website includes a Leaflet map showing the original locations of the Roman mosaics in its collections.

Leaflet wasn't used just for the map. If you click through on the links provided in each mosaic's marker on the map you can actually explore the mosaics themselves on their own individual Leaflet image viewer.


Gunma GIS Geek has also used the Leaflet mapping platform to create interactive maps from a couple of famous Japanese pilgrimage mandalas. Pilgrimage mandalas are paintings which provide a panoramic view of temple and shrine sites.

The first map on Temple Pilgrimage Mandala is of the Nachi Pilgrimage Mandala. This 16th–17th century hanging scroll depicts the Nachi Shrine on the Kii Peninsula in Japan. The painting represents the journey of two pilgrims (the couple clothed in white) as they enter the scene (bottom right) and take a circuitous route through the temple complex to the Nachi shrine.
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