Museo Correr

Museo Correr

TERRITORY IN THE INFORMATION SOCIETY. From cartography to digital mapping.


The ancient image of territory. This section of the exhibition forms a sort of ‘map room’, which brings together not only ancient depictions of the territory of the region – including some famous maps of the 15th century, real “Monuments” of Italian cartography – but also the instruments used and treatises written by cartographers of the day. Portolans and island maps reveal the importance of the sea as a means of trade and as an area of exploration, whilst maps of the terraferma chart how attention then shifted to the administration of mainland dominions. The show also includes Cristoforo Sorte’s five large maps of The Mainland State, an unrivalled example of government-inspired cartography (two of these works are on loan from a museum in Vienna, two from a private collection in Venice). One then passes on to look at the cartography produced as part of the ‘management of water resources’, concerned not only with Venice and its sea defences, but also with projects to defend the lagoon against the silt brought by rivers, proposals for land reclamation and drainage, and schemes for using water to power a variety of manufactories. The last part of this review covers such things as military cartography (plans of defences and fortresses, as well as depictions of battles), cartography as an instrument of public health control or road-planning, and even maps drawn up as part of a response to natural disasters (for example, floods). And, finally, comes cartography as an agent of scholarly erudition, a sophisticated instrument for exploring the history, archaeology and legends of a region.

Scientific study of territory. This section illustrates developments in scientific knowledge of the territory of Italy, from the first geodetic surveys and measurements carried out by cartographers before Unification (1860) right up to the studies of the present day. It comprises a significant collection of printed and manuscript cartographical works produced between the end of the 18th and the middle of the 19th century, thus illustrating the scientific-technical heritage that was then taken up by the State in producing the first homogenous account of the territory of Italy. The exhibition charts the history and development of the long and complex processes involved in geometric-scale rendition of territory, with the historical archive of the IGM Istituto Geografico Militare providing extraordinary examples of the precision instruments and documents of the day. All this material illustrates the main astronomical and geodetic operations involved in laying down the first networks for trigonometric measurement and levelling on a national scale.
A selection of technical instruments also shows how techniques of cartographical representation changed: from the first drawing pens to the advent of computer-aided design. The application of all these instruments and methods in the collection and representation of geographical information is illustrated here by various official maps.
The next technological revolution in the methods used for the geometric-scale measurement of territory and its cartographical rendition is exemplified by the Global Positioning System, which led to the creation of IGM95, the first geodetic network created using satellites.

Geographical information in the development of the regions. This section describes the change which occurred in the 1970s with the transfer of certain of the State’s duties to the recently-created Regional Governments, which thenceforth also took on the considerable task of producing independent large-scale cartographical representations of the territory under their control. This fundamental shift in responsibility for territorial governance is illustrated through the story of the Technical Regional Map commissioned by the Regional Government of the Veneto, which has made extensive documentation and resources available for this exhibition. Together with the Istituto Geografico Militare, certain installations have been created that will make it possible for the public to experience directly some of the key phases in the production of the map. The story starts with aerial photography to end with the production of the new work of cartography: a computerised map and a variety of territorial databases with their different applications and uses.
Particular emphasis is given to the photographic and cartographical material generated by the use of new methods and technologies.

New technologies and integrated systems for mapping the national territory. This section aims to illustrate the great resources that new technology has made available to the researchers, public administrators and professional technicians involved in territorial management. The first of the two areas in this section is a sort of Gallery of Technological Wonders, illustrating the variety of sensors that can be mounted on planes or satellites to provide us with information regarding territorial or environmental phenomena, which is then formed into an integrated whole thanks to the technology of the GIS, Geographical Information Systems. Particularly significant here is the room dedicated to the European Space Agency, which presents the large Envisat satellite for the observation of environmental phenomena, and the European Satellite Positioning System (Galileo). The second section illustrates how these integrated technologies can be put to concrete use in the management of territory. Examples are given of three main fields of use: infomobility (the application of information to the management of traffic flow); risk and safety (innovative technologies for foreseeing and preventing hydro-geological risks such as landslides, etc.) and environment (with a range of systems for the protection and correct exploitation of natural resources). The entire section therefore brings out the impact that new technologies have had on territorial and environmental management, in both the technical and political sphere and, as it makes clear, a profound cultural and organisational change is still taking place in this sector.