What is cartography? (in Dutch)

Explokart publications


Presentations (in Dutch)

Cartographical Myths (in Dutch)
North up and the Flat Earth

Articles in journals on the history of cartography: author's list and cumulative indexes per journal

The topographic record of the Netherlands 1800-1992 for sale (with additions, 2016), by Jan Smits

Stichting Cartographiae Historicae Cathedra om het bestaan van de leerstoel historische cartografie op lange termijn zeker ter stellen

International Conference on the History of Cartography A Short History and a Bibliography of Papers

Cursus Historische Cartografie HOVO Utrecht

Cursus Historische Cartografie in Vogelvlucht


Bijzondere Collecties
Universiteit van Amsterdam
Oude Turfmarkt 129
1012 GC Amsterdam
Tel: 020 525 2339 of 2355

Explokart Maphistory


Old maps are the only documents that effectively provide a contemporary image of spatial situation as it was in the past. Therefore, old maps are indispensable resources for historical spatial research.

The research program of the history of cartography, entitled Explokart, was founded 1981 by professor Günter Schilder at Utrecht University. The name of the program is derived from "Exploration and accessibility of Dutch cartographic documents, 16th-20th century".

Explokart is dedicated to making an inventory, description, and facsimiles of Dutch wall maps, topographical maps, sea charts, hydrographical maps, and globes. The aim of Explokart is to offer guidance to the users of old maps. This is accomplished by informing the users about the specific characteristics of cartographic materials, as well as the problems involved in their interpretation. Explokart classifies these documents and makes them accessible to members of the discipline and to the general public.

Dutch cartography has played a key role in the dissemination of geographical knowledge about the world. The economic and political situation of the times allowed commercial publishers in the Netherlands to gain a monopoly on the production of maps, atlases, and globes from the end of the sixteenth century until well into the second half of the seventeenth century. Accordingly, there is great international interest in the study of cartographic documents from that period.

Utrecht University had until 2004 the only Chair in history of cartography. It functions as a hub of national and international contacts. A high level of expertise has been built up in Utrecht. Because the Utrecht faculty started to focus on different themes in geography, Expokart moved in 2013 to the Special Collections of the University of Amsterdam. In 2015 the Stichting Cartographiae Historicae Cathedra had appointed professor Bram Vannieuwenhuyze as extraordinary professor for the history of cartography.

Interest in old maps as a source of historical information has increased enormously during the last two decades. The history of cartography can provide insight into many other fields and disciplines; e.g. history, geography, mathematica, town- and country planning, archeology, art history, and the history of book printing and trading. All of these disciplines are more or less connected with the history of maps. Scientists often use the map as historical evidence.

The social relevance of the research program Explokart - now and in future - may be summarized as follows: the preservation of the cultural heritage of the Netherlands. This aim can be archieved in various ways:

  • making an inventory of the unique Dutch map material
  • saving this material by conservation, restoration, and publication
  • making facsimiles, whereby a selection of this material can be accessible all over the world
  • publishing, to stimulate even greater recognition of the Dutch contribution to cartography.

Volunteer research

Volunteers have made an important contribution toward the research-activities. In 1993 the staff started tutorials in the bibliography of maps for volunteers, who later formed part of a working group involved in a specific subject. The results of this research are published in the series Explokart Historisch-Kartografische Studies (Explokart Studies in Map History). The efforts of highly competent volunteers made it possible for Explokart to study topics in historical cartography that would otherwise have been left unattended by the tenured staff for lack of time.


Dr. Peter van der Krogt (head of the program)
Prof. Dr. Günter Schilder (Former head of the program, retired professor of the History of Cartography)
Prof. Dr. Ferjan Ormeling (Retired Professor of Cartography)
Paula van Gestel-van het Schip (editor-in-chief)

Laatste keer gewijzigd: door Peter van der Krogt