Go BIG or Go Home
What Happens When A Small-Town Family Visits The "World's Largest"... Whatever!

The Mapparium in Boston, MA: Another Really BIG Globe!

Mary Baker Eddy Library

Mary Baker Eddy Library, home to The Mapparium

Last weekend, we returned to the annual MakerFaire, which is held in Queens. It also gave us a chance to see the Unisphere again; the world’s largest globe. Love it! And you know how I feel about Eartha up in Yarmouth, Maine.

Which got me to thinking about globes, and how I really should tell you about the Mapparium in Boston, MA.

Where we went, and who was coerced into going:

Boston was hot the week we visited. We stopped by the Mapparium, a part of the Mary Baker Eddy Library, for some air-conditioned relief, and to see the indoor, 30-foot, walk-through globe.

WHY did you go there, exactly?

I have a thing for globes (see above). The tabletop version we have at home is used frequently, to show the kids where places are while we’re reading books about distant lands. Or…when I make them sit with me to {cough} watch House Hunters International on HGTV.

Okay, what was so cool about it?

The Mapparium globe is constructed from 608 concave glass panels, which are illuminated from behind. Electric clocks ring the equator, giving comparative times around the world. You can only get inside by taking the short guided tour. The narration is accompanied by a simple light show and video.


Photo Credit: Mary Baker Eddy Library

You’ll enter on the elevated glass bridge through the Indian Ocean and exit through the South Pacific. The transparent sides allow you to see Antartica below your feet.

The Mapparium is the only place in the world in which the surface of the earth can be seen without distortion. The relative sizes of the continents on traditional globes are distorted by the spherical shape. Looking out from the center of a globe means that every point on the map is the same distance from your eye.


Photo Credit: Mary Baker Eddy Library

By design, changes have never been made to the Mapparium since it was built in 1935. Which means you can find French Indochina and Tanganyika, but not Israel or Indonesia. The USSR is still there, too. It gave us the opportunity to discuss the topic of colonialization to The Boy, as we pointed out European colonial outposts in Africa and South America.

At the time it was built, the Mapparium cost just $8,900 in labor and materials. Architect Chester Lindsay Churchill named it from the Latin terms mappa (map) and arium (room), and designed it as part of the Christian Science Publishing Society headquarters. To get more background information, take a look at the showcases outside the entrance.

Chester Lindsay Churchill

The collection of letters, documents, and artifacts tell the story of the construction and history of the globe. The rest of the building currently holds a museum on the life of Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of Christian Science.

Beyond the thrill of the larger-than-life geography, we also got a kick out of the acoustics inside the globe. Since the glass doesn’t absorb sound, your whispers are amplified. If you speak while standing under the North Pole, you hear yourself in surround sound. And if you stand at the entrance and whisper, anyone at the exit on the opposite side will hear you clearly! Have you ever tried this experiment in Grand Central Station, in the “whispering alley” near the Oyster Bar? It’s the same physics at work.

How it rated on a scale of 1 to 10 (1 = snoozefest, 10 = add to your bucket list): [rating=8]

You’ll only spend about 30 minutes here, but this attraction is definitely worth the stop.

Hey you! Go BIG!

The Mapparium at the Mary Baker Eddy Library

200 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, MA 02115


Disclaimer:  Our visit to the Mapparium was hosted by the Greater Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau.


  1. Mike said,
    October 9, 2012 @ 10:04 am

    Sounds like a place that I would love to visit, but I can’t imagine taking the kids anywhere that sounds are amplified. Whenever they sense echoes are available they take full advantage, to the detriment of others trying to enjoy a nice quiet time 🙂 That globe looks so cool…..

  2. pat said,
    October 9, 2012 @ 1:28 pm

    Pretty cool. Thanks for sharing. I’ve done the whisper thing at Union Terminal in Cincinnati too, which if you get a chance to go to is a pretty cool collection of museums now I’ll stop with the run on sentence now.

    • Traci Suppa said,
      October 10, 2012 @ 12:05 pm

      Didn’t realize there was a place like that in Cincinnati!

  3. Zoe French said,
    October 9, 2012 @ 5:26 pm

    The Mapparium looks so cool! I live in the Boston area and have never even heard of it! I’ll have to take a day trip in to check it out!!!

    • Traci Suppa said,
      October 10, 2012 @ 12:04 pm

      Yep, it’s a bit of a “hidden gem,” but worth a visit! You won’t spend a whole lot of time there, but I’m sure you’ll be able to find other stuff to do in Boston!

  4. Leigh said,
    October 10, 2012 @ 3:24 pm

    That looks really neat!! Thanks for sharing, I have now added it to my to do list the next time we visit Boston!!

  5. Lisa from Gone with the Family said,
    October 12, 2012 @ 10:19 am

    That is so cool – I have wanted to go to Boston for ages and didn’t even know about the Mapparium – it’s definitely been added to our list of things to do there. My 9 year old is a complete geography freak and she would go crazy for this!!

  6. October 15, 2012 @ 8:28 pm

    That looks really cool. I love maps and globes too. I love the beautiful colors on this one. And I’ve also done the whisper thing at Cincinnati Union Terminal.