When Earth is viewed from space, cloud formations, coastlines, mountain ranges, islands, deltas, glaciers and rivers take on patterns resembling abstract art—with striking textures and brilliant colors.
These images can be seen in a new exhibit at the Library of Congress, which opened on May 31. In cooperation with the U.S. Geological Survey, “Earth as Art” is on display in the exhibition hall outside the Library’s Geography and Map Reading Room, on the basement level of the James Madison Building.
The exhibit, which is free and open to the public from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Saturday, will remain on display at the Library until May 31, 2012.
The 40 award-winning Landsat satellite images—selected for display based on their aesthetic appeal rather than their scientific value—will become a part of the permanent collection of the Library’s Geography and Map Division (G&M).
John Hébert, chief of G&M, said “The Geography and Map Division is pleased, once again, to receive the exhibition for its permanent collection and to place it on display for an extended period of time. Our patrons and staff enjoyed previous renderings of “Earth as Art,” and in my preliminary review, these new “Earth as Art” images will delight all. It is amazing to see how places on Earth from space do appear as art, and yet, at the same time, reflect the ever-presence of humankind in reshaping Earth’s appearance.”
The Geography and Map Division hosted an earlier “Earth as Art” exhibit, which was on display from July 23, 2002, through July 3, 2005. Those images also became a part of the Library’s permanent collection. The current and previous “Earth as Art” exhibitions can be viewed online at www.loc.gov/exhibits/.
Landsat satellites for nearly 40 years have captured images of the Earth’s surface, providing data for applications in business, science, education, government and national security. The satellites monitor important natural processes and human land use such as vegetation growth, deforestation, agriculture, coastal and river erosion, snow accumulation, fresh-water reservoir replenishment and urbanization.
The Library’s Geography and Map Division has the largest and most comprehensive collection of maps and atlases in the world, some 5.2 million cartographic items that date from the 14th century to the present. The Library’s map collections contain coverage for every country and subject, and include the works of the most famous mapmakers throughout history—Ptolemy, Waldseemüller, Mercator, Ortelius and Blaeu.
For more information, visit www.loc.gov/rr/geogmap/.
Earth as Art: A Landsat Perspective
May 31, 2011 – May 31, 2012
Free and Open to the Public from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Saturday
Exhibition Hall, Outside the Library’s Geography and Map Reading Room, Basement Level of the James Madison Building
This exhibition showcases 40 award-winning Landsat 7 images created by the U.S. Geological Survey. Since 1972, Landsat satellites have collected from space information about Earth’s continents and coastal areas, enabling scientists to study many aspects of the planet and to evaluate changes caused by both natural processes and human practices. The images on display are actual digital photographs of the Earth, depicting the intricate beauty in Earth’s natural patterns.