If it weren't for Gerard Mercator, we wouldn't have gps devices today. This may very well be your conclusion after visiting the Mercator Museum, located in the Zamanstraat.
Mercator was the person who introduced the atlas as a 'cohesive collection of maps'. Even today, every sea-going vessel uses maps that are based on his projections. Also, the maps used in gps trackers are derived from Mercator's 16th century projection of the world.
The Mercator Museum tells you the chronological history of cartography, from ancient times to the present. It also highlights the life and work of Gerard De Cremer (Rupelmonde 1512 – Duisburg 1594), better known as the famous cartographer Gerard Mercator.
The absolute highlights of this museum are the very rare terrestrial (1541) and celestial (1551) globes. Both of these have recently been added to the Flemish 'Topstukkenlijst', a list of cultural, historical and scientific objects and collections that are so remarkable and rare that they require special protective measures. Among the other masterpieces of the museum, you'll find a rich collection of atlases. The most remarkable one is probably the very first Ptolemy edition from 1584.
Moreover, through computer animations, video reports and interactive touch screens, the museum places Mercator's maps, atlases and globes in a surprising present-day context.