From July 1934 to April 1935 a Franco-Belgian expedition to Rapa Nui was led by archaeologist Henri Lavachery of the Royal Museums of Art and History (RMAH) and the Swiss ethnographer Alfred Metraux (Lavachery 1935). This team undertook the first extensive ethnographic study (Metraux 1971), started a petroglyph survey (Lavachery 1935b), and excavated some funerary monuments. They also brought back to Europe a moai representing the god Pou Hakanononga which joined the collections of the RMAH (Lavachery 1938).

In March 2001, a new Belgian expedition (Archaeological Investigations on Rapa Nui) took place. It was supported by the National Geographic Society and directed by Nicolas Cauwe and Dirk Huyge of the RMAH.