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Exploring the Mapparium at the Mary Baker Eddy Library

A stroll through the Back Bay takes a tourist past the architectural and historical marvel of the Christian Science Center. Next to the church sits the Mary Baker Eddy Library, so named for the woman whose writings formed the basis of Christian Science. The library houses the Christian Science Publishing Society, most famous for The Christian Science Monitor, and the Mapparium, a spherical room made of 608 curved stained glass panels that form a map of the world.

Entrance to the Mary Baker Eddy Library, home of the Mapparium. Photography isn't allowed in the Mapparium. Click on picture for more images.

The room allows viewers to see the globe from the inside. The tour guide said the Mapparium presents the world in a different point of view. It represents “world consciousness,” the tour guide said, reflecting the worldwide reporting of the Christian Science Monitor and the worldliness of the Christian Science faith.

A brief audio presentation in the room greeted tourists in a dozen languages and repeated quotes from world leaders about world peace. That message touched Gayle Bullard, a tourist from Texas seeing the Mapparium for the first time this past Sunday.

Gayle Bullard, a tourist from Texas

“I like this aspect of Christian Science,” Bullard said. “The emphasis on world peace, the sense that we’re all one.”

When the Mapparium was first built, the artist intended to update the map as the world changed, but in 1935, the church decided to preserve it as a historical piece of art.

“That interests me just to see how the world has changed,” Bullard said.

Quick Facts:

Address: 200 Massachusetts Ave., Boston, Mass., 02115

Phone: 1-617-450-7000 or 1-888-222-3711

Website: http://www.marybakereddylibrary.org/exhibits/mapparium

Hours of Operation: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Visitors must take a guided tour to see the Mapparium, which depart every 20 minutes starting at 10:20 a.m. and ending at 4 p.m.

Cost: $6 general admission. $4 for senior citizens (over 62), students (with a school ID) and youths (6-17). Free for children under age 6.

Handicapped Accessibility: The library is accessible from the street. All exhibits, including the Mapparium, are handicapped accessible. There are elevators and free wheelchairs to use upon request.

Closest T Stop: Symphony, on the Green Line’s E branch.

Strange Fact: Because of the spherical shape of the room, the Mapparium has very unique acoustics. Two people standing on either end of the bridge that runs through the Mapparium could speak in a whisper but hear each others’ voices as if they were standing next to each other.

To see more recommended historic places, check out the class’s Google Map.

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