‘World Class Rapid Digitization of Cultural Heritage’
Maps of De Wit
Westfries Museum

The Maps of De Wit

The West Friesian Museum owns five beautiful seventeenth century maps created by the famous cartographer Frederik de Wit, they are, however, in very poor condition. Picturae was commissioned to take the torn, stained and discoloured maps, to digitise them and restore the images. The maps are now digitally accessible in all their glory.

Maps of De Wit
Westfries Museum

These impressive engravings probably originally adorned the walls of the rooms where the Directors of the West India Company met. Later they hung in Enkhuizen City Hall, but over time they have been severely damaged by light and smoke, and eventually it was decided to put the five fragile wall maps into storage. The maps were neither accessible to the public, nor available for scientific study. The municipality of Enkhuizen then took the important decision to preserve this unique heritage for future generations by having them digitally restored. Even after conservation, the maps are still too fragile to be made publically accessible, but have to be stored under climatically stable conditions in a depot in Zuiderzee.

The vulnerable maps were digitised by Picturae on location. The maps were photographed in sections, at very high resolution, and the various digital files were then put together in order to create life-size, real colour, digital copies. In order to digitally restore the five maps, a similar set of maps created by de Wit belonging to the University of Amsterdam (UBA), was used. Damaged or missing sections could thus be completed. Picturae used various innovative techniques to eliminate cracks and crazing, and to level the coloured surfaces. The maps that Picturae used for the additional image information are to be found in the map image database of the UBA.

In a specially developed Picturae viewer the five beautiful copper engravings are now accessible online, both the original version and the digitally restored version. The two versions are fascinating to compare. The image on top of this webpage also shows the difference between the restored version (left) and the original (right). Moreover, it is now possible to search through the maps as they are equipped with indexes. The project and the maps are available for viewing on the website of the West Friesian Museum.

Maps of De Wit
Westfries Museum

De Wit

Frederick De Wit, who lived from 1630-1706, was a renowned cartographer, engraver and map dealer. In the seventeenth century it was customary for world maps published in Amsterdam to consist of five sections: five paintings in which America, Africa, Asia, Europe and the world are shown. The particularity of the world maps belonging to Enkhuizen is that the set of five is complete, as over the course of time, very few sets have stayed together. The curator of the University has even suggested that these maps may be unique in the world, as they represent a complete set, and the individual maps contain exceptional elements such as decorated headings.

The West Friesian Museum

The West Friesian Museum, a museum celebrating the Golden Age, is housed within a beautiful seventeenth-century monument in Hoorn, replete with lions and coats of arms. Each of the twenty-seven rooms has its own atmosphere, in which the rich history of West Friesland is revealed. Tragically, on the night of 9th January 2005, twenty-three seventeenth century paintings, a picture, a drawing and sixty silver objects were stolen from the museum. Fortunately, however, the West Friesian Museum has a perfect copy of these works, thanks to digitisation by Picturae.

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