Yorkshire Museum

The Map That Changed the World

Discover a map that literally changed the way the world thought about what was beneath its feet. Marking 200 years since its creation, William ‘Strata’ Smith’s geological map was put back on display at the Yorkshire Museum in 2016 and can be viewed during your visit*.

Measuring 1.8m by 2.6m in size, the map went on to inspire scientists work out a more accurate age of the planet and underpinned many aspects of the Industrial Revolution.

This display in the museum’s Reading Room** looks at the eventful life of William Smith, who saw his work plagiarised and him being sent to a debtors prison before he finally became regarded as the father of English Geology. Find out about Smith’s strong links to Yorkshire, including his nephew’s appointment as the first keeper of the Yorkshire Museum.

This display is generously supported by the Yorkshire Philosophical Society.

*To protect it from light damage, the William Smith map is protected by a roller blind that is raised upon request. Please speak to a member of our Welcome Team during your visit to see the map.

**Access restrictions apply to the Reading Room – please click here to visit our Access page for further information or contact York Museums Trust ahead of your visit.