Friday, May 25, 2018

The Virtual Globes Museum

The Virtual Globes Museum is a website which allows you to view historical vintage globes as interactive virtual WebGL 3d globes. The collection includes Earth and celestial globes dating back to 1507.

The first globe in the collection is the 1507 Waldseemüller globe. This was the first globe known to include the word 'America'. The label 'America' is placed on what we now call South America. The collection also includes a number of Earth and celestial globes by the Dutch cartographer Willem Blaeu and by the Venetian Vincenzo Coronelli.

The University of Lausanne in Switzerland has released two interactive 3d globes which are digitized versions of the University's globes made by Gerard Mercator in the 16th century. The two recently discovered globes exist as a homogeneous pair, one being a terrestrial globe and the other a celestial globe.

The University has used Esri's Scene Viewer to create their two interactive 3d globes from Mercator's originals. This allows you to inspect Mercator's Earth Globe and Mercator's Celestial Globe in detail from your own browser. The Earth globe is made from plates engraved by Mercator in Louvain in 1541.

Mercator's Earth globe improves significantly on the Ptolemaic view of the world which dominated during the 16th century. For example, his representation of the Mediterranean and Africa are much more accurate than many other contemporary maps based on Ptolemy.

The State Library of New South Wales has also created a couple of interactive 3d globes from vintage historical maps and globe gores. Their Meridian application allows you to view virtual globes of Miranda's World Map (1706) and Coronelli's Terrestial Globe.

Meridian was created using the Three.js library. You can read more about how Meridian created their virtual globes from Miranda's two dimensional vintage map and from Coronelli's globe gores on the DX Lab blog.

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