Thanks to a suggestion made by our San Diego for Free columnist, my dad’s birthday was blissfully easy to plan this year. We decided to go to the Map and Atlas Museum of La Jolla and were able to arrange for a private tour — completely free of charge.
The museum is housed within the Merrill Lynch building on Fay Avenue, and is estimated (they won’t disclose the actual number) to showcase a collection worth around eight figures. It is made up of mobile walls and an elaborate hanging system that allows for changes to be made depending on the exhibit.
The museum is the brainchild of Michael Stone, a local philanthropist with an insatiable love for cartography and a desire to share it with the world.
The best part of the whole tour is guide Richard Cloward, a retired U.S. Navy captain without whom we would’ve been done in 20 minutes and wouldn’t have understood a fraction of what we were seeing. As it was, we ended up staying almost two hours — and there was still so much to learn.
Cloward explained the evolution of cartography, from the detailed illustrations that frame some of the maps depicting a country’s people and scenery to that fact that some of the distortions of countries and continents were done intentionally so as to fit the entire image on the paper. He is a wealth of knowledge and is happy to share it.
The museum is free of charge and open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. every Wednesday and Thursday, the first and third Saturday of each month, and also by appointment. For more information, call 855-653-6277.
All photos by Annie Lane.