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.

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World’s Largest Globes (two ways)!

What passes for excitement in these parts is seeing not one, but TWO “world’s largests” in one day. In September, we went to the world’s largest DIY Festival, the World Maker Faire, held at the New York Science Center in Queens. It was A. MAZING. But this post is about globes.

On the walk from the parking lot to the main gate, we stopped by the world’s largest globe. The Unisphere in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park was built for the 1964-1965 World’s Fair as a symbol of world peace. It is 140 feet high (that’s 12 stories) and 120 feet in diameter. Made of stainless steel, it weighs 900,000 pounds! It is stationery. It is beautiful.


Wearing our goofball T-shirts in front of the Unisphere

Of course, we’ve also seen another BIG globe, specifically, the world’s largest rotating globe, at the DeLorme headquarters in Yarmouth, ME.

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World’s Largest Rotating Globe, Yarmouth, ME

Where we went, and who was coerced into going:

I couldn’t wait to try out our new, matching Go BIG or Go Home T-shirts, which I purchased in a frenzy of blind gooberness while ordering business cards on Vista Print.  It didn’t matter where we went, so long as we could wear the coordinated attire which would brand us fools.


Our gooberifically matching Go BIG T-shirts. I still owe The Boy $2.00 for agreeing to wear it.

The shirts arrived just in time for our trip to Maine, both to attend a college reunion and to see “Eartha,” the world’s largest rotating and revolving globe in Yarmouth. As an added BIG bonus, we also went to the L.L.Bean flagship store in neighboring Freeport. Outside the store stands a 17-foot boot.

Happily, no coercion was necessary to get the four of us psyched for the trip. Matt got to take the new family roadster, a Mazda CX-9, on the open road for a little zoom, zoom, zoom. The Boy got to miss a day of school. The Girl was very excited to stay in a “soyal.” This is the word she’s decided to use instead of the widely-accepted “hotel.” We don’t know how and where she picked this up, but she’s quite certain that this noun describes a place offering overnight lodging.

Our trip to a “soyal” actually became a nifty bargaining chip the week before the trip, as in “If you don’t let me brush your teeth, we’re not going to the soyal.” She’s three. There’s a lot of negotiation happening in the course of a normal day.

WHY did you go there, exactly?

I attended Bates College in Lewiston, ME, and my 20th reunion gave us the perfect opportunity to visit the “Vacationland” state together as a family. As well as distract me from the unsettling fact that it’s been two freakin’ decades since I was a college-aged student.

Conveniently, Yarmouth is on the way to Lewiston, and is also the home to the DeLorme Map Company. The 41-foot globe sits in the company’s glass-enclosed lobby.

Okay, what was so cool about it?


Eartha is immense, so regardless of your age, your first reaction is “Wow!”  To even see the northern hemisphere, you have to take the stairs or elevator to the second and third floor observation balconies.

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