Faculty of Science
Charles University in Prague
PhDr. et Mgr. Eva Novotná
221 951 355
Albertov 6, Praha 2, 128 43
Albertov 6 128 43 Praha 2
tel: 221 951 357
History of the State Map Collection
Eva Novotna, director of the Map Collection
Map Collection of the Faculty of Science of Charles University belongs to the largest and most important of its kind in the Central Europe. It was founded in 1891 together with the Institute of Geography. Founding father was Prof. Václav Švambera who wanted to build a map collection of European level together with a professional workplace for geographical research. Its seat has been in the same building in Albertov 6 since 1913 to the present. Its fate was often complicated and its fame rocketed to hit rock bottom in the following period. Already in 1920 it became the State Map Collection subordinated to and subsidized by Ministry of Education. The content of its work was to concentrate, preserve, process and make accessible the national cartographic production and unique objects. Thanks to the unique financial support of the ministry the collection could afford generous purchases. Part of the Vienna army archive went here after the World War I. Map basis for the formation of the future Czechoslovak borders were created here. Thanks to the large ministerial subsidies it was growing till World Word II. After the War it acquired university collection of the dissolved German Geographical Institute, of the National Museum and part of the National Library collections. Some collections of castle libraries also got there. Further development of the collection was gradually restricted after the communist takeover in 1948. Newly established Academy of Science took over the collection in 1952 and transformed it into Cartography Section. Prof. Karel Kuchař with a number of students worked here till the early 70s. They conducted research, catalogued into card indexes and published a number of unique documents. Dr. Ivan Kupčík worked here for a short time after the death of prof. Kuchař but later he emigrated. Afterwards there were attempts to move the collection to Brno. New opportunities opened after the Velvet Revolution in 1989. The Geographical Institute of Academy of Science was dissolved in 1993 and the Map collection was given to the original owner, Faculty of Science of Charles University. New possibilities for the collection brought the project TEMAP in 2010 and long planned reconstruction of the main library hall in 2011.
The central collection hall is spacious and it has original interior in Art Noveau style with a gallery originated in the year of construction (1913). There is a plaque of prof. Václav Švambera.
Unique collection consists approx. of 130,000 maps, 2,000 atlases, 90 globes, 10,000 monographs and periodicals and other documents of different size on paper, canvas and parchment. As for the content it belongs among national unique works. There are represented all the important European cartographic schools (Dutch, French, German) as well as most outstanding cartographers from the 16th century up to the present time. We can find here detailed maps of the Czech Republic including different allegorical or fictional images, maps of countries from Europe, Asia, America, Australia and from polar region, battle layouts (eg. the Battle of Waterloo layout from 1820), hydrology, orographic, forestry, church, geological, ethnographic and astronomic maps and plans. Vienna plan by Augustine Hirschvold from 1547 is among the oldest documents.
The collection primary serves to science, research and teaching at the Charles University. In order to protect the documents the access to the collection is limited, but thanks to the project TEMAP the documents will be catalogued, professionally described, digitized and made accessible online in the digital repository of Charles University both for professional and lay public.
Map Collection – original interier