The bagged city

The 500th anniversary of town physician Thomas Schöpf (1520-1577) presents the opportunity to look back at his eventful life and to review the work that came to be known by his name: the Schöpfkarte. Alongside this exhibition, a special issue of the journal Cartographica Helvetia was published, which both outlines the current state of research and serves as an exhibition catalogue.

The south-oriented Schöpfkarte emerged without a significant example or triangulation. However, it is based on a detailed text, multiple manuscripts of which were passed on. The Latin manuscript, a so-called chorography, outlines the position of Bern in the bend of the river Aare as “a bag of grain”. “In the bag” used to be an common phrase with which to refer to this area.

The exhibition displays the first and the reprint of the map (1578 and 1672) accompanied by an excerpt from the chorography. A series of maps of Bern from the collection of Bern University Library (ca. 1500-1800) drew heavily on the Schöpfkarte. They invite a comparison and bespeak the lasting impact of the Schöpfkarte on Bernese cartography.