1492: An Ongoing Voyage

Representatives of two disparate, complex parts of the world, previously unknown to one another—The Mediterranean and the Americas—came together on an island in the Bahamas at the end of the 15th century. This accidental encounter brought them into lasting contact, initiating an intense process of exploration, conquest, and acculturation in the Americas that would continue throughout the sixteenth century and beyond.

The exhibition 1492: An Ongoing Voyage describes both pre- and post-contact America, as well as the Mediterranean world at the same time. Compelling questions are raised, such as: Who lived in the Americas before 1492? Who followed in the wake of Columbus? What was the effect of 1492 for Americans throughout the Western Hemisphere? The Library of Congress' Quincentenary exhibition addresses these questions, as well as other related themes, including fifteenth century European navigation, the myths and facts surrounding the figure of Columbus, and the differences and similarities between European and American world views at the time of contact.

The exhibit is divided into six sections: What Came To Be Called “America,” The Mediterranean World, Christopher Columbus: Man and Myth, Inventing America, Europe Claims America, and the Epilogue. The original exhibit included over 300 objects: manuscripts, books, maps, and artifacts such as globes, jewelry, and musical instruments. The online exhibit includes images of 22 objects from the original exhibit, representing each of the six sections.

The exhibit text consists of background statements for each section and sub-section (where applicable) and descriptions of the objects included in the online exhibit. In some cases there is additional text describing a particular group of objects. These “highlight” texts are included even if only one of the images described has been included in the online exhibit.

The Catalog

The exhibit 1492: An Ongoing Voyage was on display at the Library of Congress from August 12, 1992 through February 14, 1993. A 170 page catalog, 1492: An Ongoing Voyage, (John R. H├ębert, ed.) is available in hard-cover for $25.00. It is for sale in person at the Library of Congress Madison Sales Shop, or by mail from:

New Orders Superintendent of Documents
P.O. Box 371954
Pittsburgh, PA 15250-7954

The stock number is S/N 030-000-00238-5, and the price is $25.00, which includes shipping and handling. Make checks payable to the Superintendent of Documents.