On 27. August 2015, the Cartesius website was officially launched at the National Archives of Belgium in the presence of the state secretary for science policy and the defence minister. The State Archives, the Royal Library, the Royal Museum for Central Africa and the National Geographical Institute each conserve rich cartographic collections. The four institutions now have joined forces to bring their historical cartographic collections for the first time together to the broad public.
The State Archives holds a real treasure of cartographic materials, but handing out original maps and plans in the reading rooms bears the risk of deteriorating the state of conservation of these documents. Indeed, repeated unrolling and rolling-up of these maps and plans that are sometimes of considerable size has taken its toll on the documents, which called for a large-scale digitization campaign. In recent years, some 60,000 maps and plans were digitised. This number increases steadily. Roughly 44,000 of these digital images have been processed and are now available for research.