Grand Opening of the Dr. James and Betty Key Map Room

Juegos Olímpicos Francia 2024

Grand Opening of the Dr. James and Betty Key Map Room

Houston, TX – Houston Public Library Foundation (HPLF) and Houston Public Library (HPL) are proud to announce the successful grand opening of the Dr. James and Betty Key Map Room, which took place on June 13, 2024. The event, celebrating the exhibit Mapping Texas and Houston: Selections from the Houston History Research Center, drew an enthusiastic crowd of history enthusiasts, scholars, and community members.

Three men, one woman smiling and standing side by side at a ribbon cutting ceremony. The woman in the center is holding large, orange ceremonial scissors, poised to cut a wide ribbon.

From left to right: John Middleton, interim Chief Operating Officer at Houston Public Library; Betty and Dr. James Key, donors and driving force behind the project; and Nicolas Jimenez, Board Chair of Houston Public Library Foundation, pose prior to cutting the ribbon at the grand opening of the Key Map Room located inside the Julia Ideson Building.

Event Highlights:

  • Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony: The grand opening commenced with an inspiring ribbon-cutting ceremony, led by Nicolas Jimenez, Board Chair of HPLF, alongside HPL’s Interim Chief Operating Officer, John Middleton, and Dr. James and Betty Key.  This event not only symbolized the mission to preserve and share Houston’s rich historical legacy but marked a milestone in our ongoing commitment to providing valuable library services to the Houston community.
  • Thanks & Appreciation: The Houston Public Library Foundation and Key family extended its heartfelt thanks to all donors, partners, and supporters who made this project possible. Your continued contributions will ensure that the Key Map Room will be a lasting resource for generations to come.
  • Family Contributions: Dr. James Key shared a personal story about his lifelong love for maps and how, Betty his wife, initially just indulged him prior to their now shared passion for cartography. Attendees received a heartfelt glimpse into the lives of the individuals behind the exhibit’s inspiration.

Exhibit Features:

Over 2,000 maps have found their way into the collection via individual donations, as part of archival collections, and through the state document depository program. The new Key Map Room is a dedicated gallery space for displaying maps of Houston, Texas, and beyond, offering a unique opportunity for the public viewing of these beautiful and educational pieces of history.

  • Rare Historical Maps: Visitors were thrilled to view original maps dating from the 16th century to the present, including early depictions of Texas and the Gulf Coast. These maps offer a visual journey through the region’s history, showcasing changes and growth over centuries.
  • Urban Development Maps: The collection includes detailed maps illustrating Houston’s transformation from a modest settlement to a bustling metropolis. These maps provide a unique perspective on the city’s rapid expansion and urban planning efforts.
  • Dr. Key’s Personal Favorites: The exhibition features Girolamo Ruscelli’s 1574 map, Nueva Hispania Tabula Nova, one of the first maps to focus on the area that would become the Southern half of the United States and Mexico. The map reveals Spanish exploration and colonization of the region, noting the discoveries of famed explorers Alonso Álvarez de Pineda, Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, and Luis de Moscoso Alvarado. A rare American-made globe is also on display, which was manufactured by the pioneering Boston globe-maker Josiah Loring in 1844. The globe is notable for including the Republic of Texas.

Public Access and Tours:

The Dr. James and Betty Key Map Room is now open to the public during the History Research Center’s regular hours. The Mapping Texas and Houston exhibit will be on display through March of 2025.

Visitor Feedback:

Guests at the opening expressed their admiration for the exhibit’s depth and the collective efforts in making history accessible. Many noted the exhibit as “amazing” and thanked Christina Grubitz, curator for HPL, for creating an experience that was both engaging and educational for all ages.

About Houston Public Library
We are a dynamic organization that serves one of the largest service areas –both population and area – in the country. 2.3 million residents in the City of Houston are the primary beneficiaries of a comprehensive customer-focused service delivery strategy.

Our system consists of 44 public service units which include one Central Library, five Regional Libraries, 29 Neighborhood and Express Libraries, three History Research Centers, three TECHLinks, one Satellite location at Children’s Museum Houston, one cafécollege Houston center, and one Mobile Express.

For more information about the Houston Public Library, please visit or call 832-393-1313.