“Look . . . They gave me a Map!” The Enduring Appeal of Road Maps
Summer—Oct 30, 2020
Location: Members 1st Gallery
Years ago, oil companies used road maps to promote their brands of fuel and to assist the traveling public. Billions of road maps were given out at gas and service stations. The “They gave me a Map!” exhibit, guest curated by the Road Map Collectors Association, harkens back to days gone by. The exhibit presents the artistry, destination images, and geographic highlights that made maps glove box-sized resources for travelers.
Free maps for motorists
In 1914, Gulf Oil began distributing road maps to their customers, a practice they continued through 1975. Free road maps became more common as years went by, and was a service expected by motorists for decades.
A vintage 1934 Gulf Oil advertisement commemorating distribution of the first free road maps is the exhibit’s featured backdrop and is presented along with a 1912 Cadillac. The exhibition also features an assortment of other road maps from a variety of sources.
Today maps from state highway departments, AAA, and other sources are still published. Of course, many travelers now use electronic maps or in-vehicle navigation systems to get from point A to point B. Step back in time for gallery pieces that include: How We Navigate; World of Maps; PA Turnpike at 80; Art Deco/Streamline Moderne in Road Map Art; Gulf Oil Maps; Sinclair Oil Maps; Road Map Oddities; and Collecting Road Maps.
Also, in the AACA Museum’s main gallery, enjoy “Women on Map Covers,” a study on how women were portrayed in travel and travel product promotion.