Historic cartography collection comes to North Texas museums

Beginning Nov. 3, people across the state will have the opportunity to experience more than 400 years of Texas history through maps, as a result of TCU’s partnership with the Museum of the Big Bend at Sul Ross State University in Alpine.The exhibit, titled “Going to Texas: Five Centuries of Texas Maps,” consists of 64 historic maps from the Yana and Marty Davis map collection dating from 1548 to 2006.

Marty Davis and his wife, Yana Davis, donated the maps to the Museum of the Big Bend, said Liz Jackson, the assistant to the director at the Museum of the Big Bend. She said Marty Davis’ close friendship with TCU political science professor Mary Volcansek is to be credited for TCU’s collaboration with Sul Ross State University about 18 months ago.

The Center for Texas Studies at TCU published a book based on the exhibit, titled “Going to Texas,” and assisted in the funding of the exhibit, Jackson said.

“The maps are part of a 1,000-piece map collection condensed to 64 pieces for the traveling show,” said Matt Walter, a historian at the Museum of the Big Bend.

Marty Davis is the foremost map collector in the state of Texas who is passionate about history, Walter said.

For at least the past 25 years, Marty Davis has been collecting the maps of Texas, said Sam Childers, communication manager of Old Red Museum in Dallas.

“Basically, through these maps, you will see Texas transforming from before it was a state, to when it was part of Mexico, when it was the republic of Texas, the mapping following U.S. and Mexico conflict and its progression from a rural to an urban state,” Walter said.

The exhibit will also offer more than just geography, Childers said. He said the exhibit will cover a wide range of topics as the museum works in conjunction with the Dallas Historical Society.

Economically, the exhibit will have maps that deal with railroads, shipping and trading posts, Childers said. He said the maps will also show agricultural range from the 16th-century exploration to the development of airlines.

Dallas is one of the 10 stops that the exhibit will take around Texas during its two-year tour. The exhibit will begin in Dallas at the Old Red Museum on Saturday and end in January 2010 at the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame in Fort Worth.

“The exhibit will be in our public gallery, so it is free to the public,” Childers said. “The last day to see the exhibit (in Dallas) will be Feb. 23.