Congratulations! Marjo T. Nurminen and Juha Nurminen accept the Fordham Award at the Royal Geographical Society in London

fordham3In May this year, the Foundation was able to announce a veritable cartographic scoop, when the distinguished Royal Geographical Society in London granted the Fordham Award to Marjo T. Nurminen and Juha Nurminen for their joint research and writing work on the cultural history of maps.

Rita Gardner, Director of the Society, presented the award at a festive event organised on 13 October at the Royal Geographical Society (RGS). Gardner thanked the authors for their magnificent input to the popularisation of the history of cartography, and for making the history of the European world map better known.

The dazzling and unique work of non-fiction is the first in Finland to receive the Fordham Award. The award highlights the role of narrative and the ambition of embarking on a journey covering a thousand years, and acknowledges the publication as a major cultural feat by the Foundation. This gives us good reason to say that Finnish non-fiction is doing great,” rejoices Annamari Arrakoski-Engardt, Secretary General of the Foundation.  

Juha and Marjo Nurminen had therefore been able to digest the news for some time before the actual award ceremony.  Nevertheless, we have to ask: how do you feel now?

‘The Fordham Award is a significant recognition, awarded by experts in cartography. Obviously, being acknowledged in this way feels great, and encourages us to continue our research in cartography’, says author Marjo Nurminen.

‘Maps have been collected for as long as they have been made. I have collected old maps myself for almost half a century. Maps have always played a key role in visualising the history of exploration and navigation. Without map collectors, we would have no research into the history of maps. The RGS award, too, was an acknowledgement of the exemplary collaboration between a map collector and a map researcher’, says Juha Nurminen. It feels wonderful to see that our passion for maps and map research is communicated to our readers. As far as I know, no Finnish-born map historian has received an international award of similar significance since 1889, when the explorer and map collector A.E. Nordenskiöld published his famous work Facsimile Atlas to Early History of Cartography.’

Old maps: a treasure trove for researchers, a journey of discovery for the layman.

“My academic background is in cultural research, a fact that can no doubt be observed also when reading this book. For a cultural researcher, old maps are true treasures: they show us a reflection of history and culture that is astonishingly versatile,” explains Marjo.

For lay readers, the author’s tip is to take your time and allow yourself to fall in love with the maps, seeking inspiration from them.

“Old maps are sure to seduce all readers interested in geography, science, art, exploration, seafaring, power politics or propaganda. For me, the falling-in-love phase took years, but now my love is growing deeper still.  My greatest insight was the fact that maps are cultural-historical bridges between the past and the present. We, as Europeans, have an amazingly long and endlessly interesting history in the way we structure reality through visual map images.”

The Mapmakers’ World, published last September in Finnish and English, is the Foundation’s 30th publication. The book was a nominee for the Tieto-Finlandia non-fiction award, and has received rave reviews both in Finland and internationally.