ArchiCool: The Mapparium

ArchiCool: The Mapparium

ARCHICOOL: THE MAPPARIUM

ArchiCool: The Mapparium

The ArchiCool blog series features unique locations, structures, and items designed by architects all over the world. This is the first post in the ArchiCool series. Enjoy.

Info

Name:
The Mapparium

Location:
Boston, Massachusetts (USA)

Architect:
Chester Lindsay Churchill

Year Built:
1935

Address:
The Mary Baker Eddy Library (The Mapparium is inside)
200 Massachusetts Avenue
Boston, MA 02115

Contact Info:
Phone: (617) 450-7000
Email:

Hours of Operation:

Tuesday – Sunday: 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Monday & Holidays: Closed

Admission:
General Admission: $6.00
Seniors (62+), Students & Military (w/ ID), & Youth: $4.00
Children Under 5 Years Old: Free
Tour Groups (15 or more): $4.00/General Admission, $3.00 Youth, Students, & Seniors

Tours:
Visitors may only experience The Mapparium on a tour. Tours start every 20 minutes and last roughly 15-20 minutes. The first tour each day is at 10:20 a.m. and the last tour of the day starts at 4:00 p.m.

Background

This hidden gem of Beantown is located in the Mary Baker Eddy Library and first opened to the public in June of 1935. The Mapparium allows visitors to stand in the center of a 3-story tall stained glass globe as they traverse a 30-foot long bridge that passes directly through the globe from the Indian Ocean to the Pacific Ocean. This unique globe structure offers visitors the opportunity to view the world without the geographic distortions caused by most flat projection maps.

The architect of The Mapparium, Chester Lindsay Churchill, was inspired by the giant spinning globe located in the lobby of the New York Daily News Building. Churchill wanted the structure to convey the global mission and reach of his employer, the Christian Science Publishing Society. The Christian Science headquarters was housed in what is now the Mary Baker Eddy Library.

The nations depicted on The Mapparium globe were taken from the Rand McNally political maps that were published in 1934. Modern day visitors will be exposed to how the world has changed since the early 20th Century when Western Colonialism dominated the world. Though many discussions were had about whether or not the globe should be updated to reflect the geopolitical changes experienced over time, it was decided in the 1960’s that The Mapparium should stay as it was originally built thereby preserving it as a historical snapshot of the world in the 1930’s. the only changes that have been made to The Mapparium occurred during its 3-year renovation that occurred in 1998. Boston based firm, Krent/Paffett Associates (now Experience Design) added an LED lighting system on the outside of the globe that allows The Mapparium to be used as a storytelling exhibit for visitors by illuminating the globe to show how the world has changed over time.

Points of Interest

  • The Mapparium was built using a bronze framework and more than 600 concave stained glass panels that were produced by the Rambusch Company.
  • In 1935, The Mapparium cost $35,000 (USD) to build. In today’s dollars, the project would have cost over $605,000.
  • Ever been to a whispering gallery before? The acoustics inside The Mapparium allow a person to have a conversation with someone on opposite sides of the structure without raising their voice beyond what they would need to speak with someone standing right nest to them. Looking for another acoustic treat? Try standing in the middle of the bridge and listening to the sound of your own voice reflected back to you.

Learn More:

The Mapparium on Facebook
The Mapparium Home Page
The Mapparium on Trip Advisor