Art Talks: European Vacation: the Birth of the Grand Tour

Event Details

Early road maps and travel guides illustrate the period when travel became pleasure.

In the 17th century, rising middle classes in Europe began taking to the road for vacations in unprecedented numbers. The Grand Tour—a trip through France and Italy in search of art, culture, and the roots of Western civilization—lasted for centuries as a societal rite of passage.

Alongside the rise of these early holidaymakers were the maps and books to guide their travels. Ian Fowler, Geospatial Librarian and Map Curator, shares highlights from the Library’s Maps Division of the road maps, tourist guides, and other innovations that supported the Grand Tour circuit.

Learn about and see firsthand rarities such as:

  • The 17th-century road maps of England by John Ogilby that were the first of their kind
  • Guides to the antiquities of Rome for newcomers to Italy
  • A selection of popular travel books from the time such as Baedeker


For free events, we generally overbook to ensure a full house. Priority will be given to those who have registered in advance, but registration does not guarantee admission. All registered seats are released shortly before start time, and seats may become available at that time. A standby line will form one hour before the program.

Please send all press inquiries (photo, video, interviews, audio-recording, etc.) at least 24-hours before the day of the program to Sara Beth Joren at