Friends of the Zeiss RFP Response 2002 May 22 Page IV-1


Mercator's Projection Map of the World

Commissioned by the

United States Maritime Commission

Description and History: This historic artifact is located along the western wall of the Great Hall of The Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science, above the former "Image Imagination" exhibit. Previously displayed in this area of the Great Hall was the "Masterpieces in Glass" Gemmaux exhibit, sponsored by PPG Industries, Corporation. At one time, clocks, displaying the time for many of the world's time zones, were displayed at the bottom of this map.

This Mercator's Projection Map of the World was commissioned by the United States Maritime Commission for its original display at the 1939 World's Fair in New York City. This map was moved to Buhl Planetarium shortly after this World's Fair closed in the Autumn of 1940.

When displayed at the 1939 World's Fair, this map was considered the world's largest Mercator's Projection Map of the World. As the Guinness Book of World Records does not seem to have a category for world maps, it is not known if it remains the largest in the world. However, it is likely that this map does remain one of the largest in the world, and one of the few of its large size.

Small lights on this map display all of the major seaports of the world. With the exception of a few burned-out light bulbs, which have not been replaced recently, these lights were fully functional when the Buhl Planetarium building closed in 1994.

In addition to displaying the major seaports of the world, this map graphically displays the mountains, valleys, deserts, and other topographical conditions of the world.

You can learn more about this artifact at the following URL. This will also provide links to sample tour scripts for the tours "The Sun Rules Our Lives" and "The Weather Tour," which included use of the Mercator's Projection Map of the World:

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Proposal: Friends of the Zeiss proposes that the Mercator's Projection Map of the World would continue to be displayed in its current location, as part of the Pittsburgh Children's Museum and Center. Our understanding is that Buhl Planetarium's Great Hall, where this World Map is currently located, will primarily be used as a cafe by the Children's Museum. So, not only will the World Map not conflict with Children's Museum programming, it will add a nice educational touch to this cafe area.

We note that no organizations, other than Friends of the Zeiss and The Carnegie Science Center, opted to view the Mercator's Projection Map of the World during the tour dates offered by the Department of General Services. It is our understanding that The Carnegie Science Center has not expressed an interest in this artifact.

Jane Werner, Executive Director of the Pittsburgh Children's Museum, recently stated that she is concerned regarding the lead-based paints used in this artifact. Robert Lodge, President of McKay Lodge Conservation Laboratory, Inc. located in Oberlin, Ohio, found this remark surprising.




Friends of the Zeiss RFP Response 2002 May 22 Page IV-2


In an April 18 message, he said: "The issue of lead-based pigments being hazardous is interesting. Museums are full of art with colored media based on lead, as well as mercury and chromium. There would be a hazard only if the paint is flaking into the environment or children are chewing on the mural. The presence of lead dust can easily be performed by the health dept with a swipe."

Please note that McKay Lodge Conservation Laboratory, Inc. provides conservation services to The Carnegie Museum of Art, as well for the conservation of murals in Federal Buildings in 17 midwestern states, under a contract with the U.S. General Services Administration.

Considering the height of the Mercator's Projection Map of the World, there is practically no chance that children could chew on the mural. To determine whether there is any flaking of paint or lead dust in the environment, we would ask the Allegheny County Health Department to make an evaluation.

Depending on the Health Department's findings, we would raise funds to take what remedial action is deemed necessary. Upon the Health Department's recommendation, we may seek periodic evaluations regarding this issue.

We would also hire an electrician to assess the condition of the wiring and light bulb fixtures in the World Map. We would ensure that the World Map's electrical systems meet all current electrical codes, before the seaport lights are again displayed to the public.

Prior to the mid-1980s, a Rand McNally Geo-Physical Relief Globe accompanied this map in the western end of Buhl Planetarium's Great Hall; the Globe was moved elsewhere in the building later in the 1980s. The Globe was moved to The Carnegie Science Center and displayed on the building's fourth floor for several years. Currently, this globe is in storage.

Another Geo-Physical Relief Globe was also displayed near the Hillman Hall of Minerals and Gems, in The Carnegie Museum of Natural History, for several years. Although this globe displayed topography in a slightly different way, ironically the Science Center and Museum globes are exactly the same size! As with the Science Center Globe, the Museum Globe is presently in storage.

It is really a shame that these wonderful globes are in storage, educating no one. This fate should not happen to the Mercator's Projection Map of the World in Buhl Planetarium. As this World Map consumes only wall space, high above other exhibitry, there is no reason it needs to be placed in storage.

Unless another suitable location is found, to publicly display this artifact, it should remain in its current location. If the World Map is removed from its current location and placed in storage, it is likely that it will never again see the light of day. If no one else is willing to display this artifact now, it is very unlikely that someone will be willing to spend the money to have the World Map remounted in the future.

Should this artifact be removed and placed in storage, the residents of Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania would be deprived of viewing, and learning from, a valuable and historic Mercator's Projection Map of the World. And, the Pittsburgh Children's Museum and Center will have a large vacant wall, instead of an educational work of art.