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The Language of the World Museum:

Otto Neurath, Paul Otlet, Le Corbusier


by Nader Vossoughian*

B
*Doctoral candidate,
y 1933, the Austrian Otto Neuraths
Columbia University. Musuem of Society and Economy had
The author wishes to thank opened satellite branches in Amsterdam,
W. Boyd Rayward The Hague, London, Berlin-Kreuzberg, and
(University of Illinois at
Urbana-Champaign) for his Moscow. By 1933, Neurath had published his
excellent editorial and Society and Economy (1930) [Gesellschaft und
research advice, as well as Wirtschaft], The Colorful World (1929) [Die
for his support. He also bunte Welt], Technology and Humanity (1932)
wishes to thank Friedrich
Stadler (University of [Technik und Menschheit], and Pictoral
Vienna) for encouraging his Statistics according to the Vienna Method for
work on Otto Neurath and Schools (1933) [Bildstatistik nach der Wiener
for providing him with an Methode in der Schule]. By 1933, Neurath was
intellectual context in
Vienna that has been receiving visitors all over the world. By 1933,
enriching both personally Neurath was traveling all throughout Europe Otto Neurath and Gerd Arntz. Axonometric study of a
and intellectually. In and Asia. By 1933, Neurath was one year shy of standardized museum space, c. 1938-1940.55
Vienna, he is also most
appreciative for the leaving Vienna for good. National Socialism was (Reproduced by permission from the Otto and Marie
Gastfreundschaft of gaining sway in Austria, and the Museum of Neurath Isotype Collection, Department of Typography
Elisabeth Nemeth Society and Economy in Vienna would become & Graphic Communication, The University of Reading,
(University of Vienna) and United Kingdon).
Volker Thurm-Nemeth. A
one its earliest casualties. This is not to say that
significant debt is also owed all was lost, as in 1934 Neurath would be able to he was prepared to produce copies of his muse-
to Matthew Specter (Duke) reestablish himself in The Hague, where he had um that he could disseminate all throughout the
and Paul Ghils only recently opened his International world. For him, the museum had become an
(Transnational Associations)
for their editorial feedback. Foundation for Visual Education. Moreover, he increasingly ephemeral medium whose identity
He is also indebted to was also taking his ideas about museums in new was no longer site-specific. Accordingly, he
archivists and research lia- directions. In 1933, Neurath published a semi- began to view the modern museum as a form of
sons Stphanie Manfroid nal statement in the progressive American social communication whose boundaries were no
(Paul Otlet Papers,
Mundaneum), Eric Kindel welfare journal Survey Graphic (a popularized longer constrained by physical matter: [j]ust as
(ISOTYPE Archive, version of its predecessor, the Pittsburgh-based in Vienna the Department of Transformation
University of Reading), journal of professional social work, The Survey), has succeeded in securing complete unity of
Evelyne Trehin (Fondation in which he made the bold (and somewhat method, he wrote, referring to what would
Le Corbusier, Paris), and
Brigitta Arden (Rudolf grandiose) claim that the serial reproduction of later be known as the Isotype or International
Carnap Papers, University modern museums could promote the democra- System of Typographic Picture Education, so
of Pittsburgh). He also tization of culture in economic and cultural our effort should be to create a similarly uni-
thanks their respective insti-
tutions for allowing him terms;2 economically, Neurath reasoned, because form method for all the museums of a country
permission to include the Fordist, assembly-line production methods yes, of the whole world. Only through a uni-
illustrations, diagrams, and could help reduce costs incurred through the fied, planned, central control of all museums
photographs that appear in purchasing and displaying of exhibits; and cul- and educational institutions is it possible to lead
the article. For financial
support, he wishes to thank turally, he contended, because standardizing the public from one museum to another with
the Austrian Exchange museums could foster a common sense of histo- the greatest benefit to its education, and thereby
Service [sterreichischer ry and tradition world-wide. As Neurath to make the individual more and more familiar
Austauschdienst] and
Columbia Universitys remarked in the pages of Survey Graphic, [t]o with the world in which he lives. Museums,
Graduate School of speak of the museum of the future is like speak- exhibitions and periodicals might be regarded as
Architecture, Planning, and ing of the automobile of the future. three different means of education with the
Preservation. At Columbia, Automobiles are manufactured in series and not identical purpose of making him less afraid of
he is particularly grateful to
Dean Bernard Tschumi, produced one by one in a smithy.3 the world in which he lives.4
Mary McLeod, and his dis- According to Neurath, just as he had perfect- In order to realize his dream of a mechanically
sertation sponsor Kenneth ed the standardization of museum displays dur- reproducible museum, Neurath began to work out,
Frampton. ing the 1920s developing uniform standards conceptually, universal spaces, that is, exhibition
Transnational Associations for graphic representation, layout, and produc- halls that could be adapted to any geographical or
1-2/2003, 82-93 tion so too had he now reached a point where cultural circumstance (Figures 1, 2).5 He began

82
I also wish to cite the con- developing them in conjunction with the artist guage, if not for science then for society at large.
tinued support of my exter-
nal advisor Detlef Mertins Gerd Arntz, whom he had met in 1926 and had He felt that the standardization of culture could
(University of Toronto). been working with since 1928. On account of his help bring reason and rationality to the masses
2 An excellent background contact with the German avant-garde (including, while also promoting global understanding.
source on the history of
Survey Graphic is Cara perhaps, the 1923 Prounen-raum studies of What were the intellectual foundations of his
Finnegan, Social Welfare Lissitzky), Arntz, like Neurath, wanted to merge quest for a standardized museum? Where did
and Visual Politics: The what objects say, semiotically speaking, with how the impetus come from, intellectually speaking?
Story of Survey Graphic. they appear, in ontological terms. Arntz was a What were some of the advantages to serially
Available from
http://newdeal.feri.org/sg/es socialist concerned with making social reality acces- reproducing museums and how did this notion
say.htm. sible to the masses, and he sought accordingly to evolve from his earlier thinking? Although his
3 Otto Neurath, Museums develop a visual idiom that could cast the plight of relationship with Arntz was central, Arntzs
of the Future, in the working class in a dialectical light, that is to say, input primarily came from his artistic ability,
Empiricism and Sociology,
ed. Marie Neurath and in relation to the larger economic superstructure which refined the methods of the Museum of
Robert Stohne Cohen of modern society. At the same time, Arntz wanted Society and Economy, as well as its world-wide
(Dordrecht: Reidel, 1973) his work to be accessible and not overly abstract. image. Moreover, Arntzs left behind little in the
218.
4 Otto Neurath, Museums His and Neuraths was thus a search for the primal way of an intellectual corpus that gives one the
of the Future, in beginnings of language (where groups of people sense that he was an important conceptual insti-
Empiricism and Sociology, are truly represented by groups of people,6 as Arntz gator that helped further Neurath along.
ed. Marie Neurath and once put it), much as rationalist philosopher Second, Neuraths relationship with Carnap and
Robert Stohne Cohen
(Dordrecht: Reidel, 1973) Leibniz had sought to achieve in his own work on the Vienna Cirle, though fruitful, dwelled large-
222. the scientific origins of language. Arntz and ly on philosophical matters. Carnap was inter-
5 There is great debate as to Neurath sought to create meta-Isotypes, that is, ested in popularizing scientific knowledge, but
when Neurath and Artnz
actually began experiment- three-dimensional axonometric and two-dimen- his early (pre-1933) correspondences with
ing with the design of stan- sional elevation drawings that illustrated how, ideal- Neurath focused primarily on problems of lan-
dardized museums. The ly, the graphic displays of the Museum of Society guage relating to the work of Mach, Poincar,
Otto and Marie Neurath and Economy could to be standardized in space Bertrand Russell, and other eminent philoso-
Isotype Collection in
Reading dates these studies and time. phers and scientists. Though Carnap was to give
to Neuraths latter years in These representations, one of which appeared a series of lectures at the Bauhaus in 1929, even
Holland (approximately in Neuraths 1936 International Picture these presentations were largely theoretical, lack-
1938-1940). I, however, Language but have otherwise been buried in his ing concrete prescriptions and analyses.
would probably date their
inception sooner (to as archive, were important because they reflect In trying to account for Neuraths preoccupa-
soon as 1935), given that Neuraths long-standing preoccupation with tion with standardization and museums, a more
Neurath had already pub- uncovering the grammar of three-dimensional compelling answer, I would argue, is to look at
lished an elevation render-
ing of a universal muse- reality, which is something he debated intensely Neuraths relationship with the Belgian bibliog-
um space in his with his friend and Vienna Circle interlocutor rapher and museum director Paul Otlet, whose
International Picture Rudolf Carnap from 1923 onwards. Carnap, efforts to consolidate the knowledge of the
Language of 1936. See who authored the Logical Construction of the world into a single, common database paralleled
Otto Neurath,
International Picture World [Logischer Aufbau der Welt] in 1928, Neuraths concern for democratizing the dissem-
Language (Reading: sought to theorize an ideal languange of philos- ination of culture and information. Otlet had
University of Reading ophy, much as Neurath sought to theorize an founded his World Palace or Palais Mondial in
Department of Typography
& Graphic ideal language of museum display. As Carnap 1910 with the intention of creating an interna-
Communication, 1980) 45. would report in an October, 1928 letter to tional museum of world culture. In 1928, he
6 Gerd Arntz, Zur Neurath, a logic, a method of concept building initiated talks to create a great World City [Cit
Methode des Gesellschafts- must be proposed [by someone] who has con- Mondiale] in Geneva, with assistance from Le
und Wirtschaftsmuseum in
Wien, Arbeiterbildung in sidered the fact that we are constantly confusing Corbusier and his cousin Pierre Jeanneret.
der Zwischenkriegszeit: crystals with dirt, who can propose rules for Neurath was inspired by the ambition and scope
Otto Neurath Gerd articulating scientific concepts and statements, of Otlets Wold City endeavor, and it undoubt-
Arntz. ed., Friedrich so long as an ideal language does not exist.7 edly exercised an indelible influence on him in
Stadler. (Vienna and
Munich: Lcker Verlag, Through mass standardization, Neurath terms of helping him elaborate further his
1982). Originally published believed he could help forge this new ideal lan- thoughts on modern museums; Neurath wanted

83
in A-Z (1930) century.10 Otlet, like Geddes, believed that
7 eine Logik, eine
Methode der museums and exhibitions were forums for
Begriffsbildung aufgestellt showcasing the unity of human knowledge, and
werden mu_, die die he sought to create a microcosm of the world
Tatsache bercksichtigt,
da_ wir stets Kristalle und that he could nurture and cultivate in a single
Dreck gemischte vor uns enclosed space. As Otlet wrote in 1914, [the
haben, die also angibt, museum] tends to become a world in miniature,
welche Forderungen an a cosmoscope that permits the viewing and
wissenschaftliche Begriffe
und Aussagen zu stellen understanding of man, society, [and] the uni-
sind, solange die ideale verse.11 At the World Palace, Otlet stressed uni-
Sprache nicht vorliegt. formity and coherence (it must be a museum of
Rudolf Carnap. Letter to Paul Otlets World Museum c. 1914 (Reproduced by per- average types and standards,12 he wrote), and in
Otto Neurath, October 7, mission from the Paul Otlet Archive, Mundaneum,
Rudolf Carnap Collection, Mons, Belgium).
the curating of displays he was partial to inno-
University of Pittsburgh vations in transportation and communication
Library, 1928. to bring knowledge and rationality to the masss- (e.g., the creation of canals, the postal service,
8 Otto Neurath,
International Picture es, and he recognized in Otlets vision of a the telegraph, the telephone, etc.). For Otlet,
Language (Reading: World Museum a means of achieving this ideal the world of communication represented the
University of Reading in the realm of cultural production: [i]n our glue that brought the world ever closer togeth-
Department of Typography own day Paul Otlet (Palais Mondial, Brussels) is er, much as Geddes own intellectual forebearer,
& Graphic
Communication, 1980) 64. taking a step further, Neurath wrote in 1936. Friedrich Le Play, had believed that a statistical-
9 For a more in-depth His idea is the building of a cit mondiale for ly-based science of culture could bridge cul-
treatment of Otlets life and the organization of museums and the distribu- tural differences between peoples in France and
career, see W. Boyd
Rayward, The Origins of tion of printed materials and pictures. He made elsewhere.13 Over the years, Otlet featured
Information Science and a start to get together picture material from all model airplanes and scientific tools and instru-
the International Institute countries. He has the desire to get museums of ments, geographical maps and diagrams repre-
of a new sort started in all countries: senting the earth and all its nations (Figure 3).
Bibliography/International
Federation for Information MUNDANEUMs, that is, museums of mans There were vitrines laid out for the viewing of
and Documentation development.8 In hindsight, Neurath probably precious objects, and installations hung from all
(FID), Journal of the mischaracterized Otlets goals (the idea of stan- corners. There were projectors old and new, and
American Society of dardizing museums throughout the world was gadgets drawn from the ages: microscopes, tele-
Information Science 48
(1997). Avail. online via more his dream than Otlets), but Otlet never- scopes, navigation devices, and printing tools.
http://alexia.lis.uiuc.edu/~w theless helped Neurath adapt his ideas about Otlet organized exhibits geographically by
rayward/otlet/OriginsofInfo museums to the global arena, to consider how nation or region and comparatively according to
Sci.htm; W. .Boyd
Rayward, The Case of his philosophy about museums and visual com- research methodology (e.g., historical, biologi-
Paul Otlet, Pioneer of munication could be executed on an interna- cal, or statistical analysis).
Information Science, tional scale. During the 1920s, Otlet increasingly came to
Internationalist, Visionary: Otlet began the World Palace with exhibits came to see his World Palace as a public space
Reflections on Biography,
(1991). Avail. online via drawn from the 1910 Brussels Worlds Fair. He that brought people and ideas of different
http://alexia.lis.uiuc.edu/~w started it with help from Henri La Fontaine, nationalities together, as well as a place to con-
rayward/otlet/PAUL_OTL with whom he collaborated on the creation of a solidate and manage disinterested information.
ET_REFLECTIONS_ON
_BIOG.HTM; W. Boyd mammoth card catalog from 1895 onwards (the Post-1930, this would exercise a significant
Rayward, Introduction, catalog boasted 1.5 million entries in 1897 and influence on Neurath, who shared Otlets view
International Organisation over 9 million by 1912).9 The creation of the that museums could serve social, as well as intel-
and Dissemination of World Palace drew inspiration (if partially) from lectual, ends. In 1924, Otlet drafted his first
Knowledge: Selected Essays
of Paul Otlet, ed., W. Boyd the Scottish naturalist and town planner Patrick statements calling for the creation of a global
Rayward (Amsterdam: Geddes, a figure who played a significant role in Mundaneum (also known as the cit mondial),
Elsevier, 1990). the Worlds Fairs of 1900 (Paris) and 1910 which he believed should include a university,
10 For a treatment of (Brussels). Geddes had himself had dreamed of library, museum, and public gathering hall.
Geddes contribution to the
Paris Worlds Fair, see creating a universal index museum to the Promoting public intercourse was important for
Philip Boardman, The world during the last decade of the nineteenth him, as [t]he repercussions of interdependence

84
Worlds of Patrick Geddes: can become too cramped, engenders violence,
Biologist, Town Planner,
Re-Educator, Peace-Warrior disorder, disastrous chaos if the idea of orga-
(London: Routledge & nization does not carry with it coordination and
Kegan Paul, 1978) 178- does not sublimate interdependency to the
184; Pieter van Wesemael,
Architecture of Instruction point of solidarity.14 In 1928, Otlet solicited
and Delight : A Socio- concrete architectural proposals for the World
Historical Analysis of City from Le Corbusier and his partner and
World Exhibitions as a cousin Pierre Jeanneret. Although Otlet would
Didactic Phenomenon
(1798-1851-1970) have had reason to select the Belgian Garden
(Rotterdam: 010 City designer Louis van Swaelmen (1883-1929)
Publishers, 2001) 433. instead (van Swaelman had created a prototype
11 Par leur moyen, il World City outside Brussels), he decided upon
tend devenir un Monde en
miniature, un Cosmoscope, Le Corbusier because of his international pres-
permettant de voir et de com- tige and his previous involvement in the 1927 Arial view of Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeannerets pro-
prondre lHomme, la Socit, League of Nations competition.15 Le Corbusier posed Mundaneum design. (Reprinted from Paul Otlet,
lUnivers. Paul Otlet, Le Mundaneum (Brussels: LUnion des Associations
Muse International: Notice- and Jeanneret had been disqualified from the
competition, for reasons that many found dubi- Internationales, 1928).
Catalogue (Brussels: Office
Central des Assiciations ous (they submitted printed rather than ink
Internationals, 1914) 7. drawings), yet the project led to the publication the world city, but he did stress that its core
12Ce doit tre un Muse
des meilleurs types et des of Le Corbusiers Une Maison un Palais in buildings would house information about histo-
standards. Paul Otlet, Le 1928, which included a variation of their ry, science, the arts, education, geography, and
Muse International: Notice- League of Nations scheme.16 Though the sociology: The museum will have presentations
Catalogue (Brussels: Office
Central des Assiciations Marxian arm of the architectural avant-garde of objects and collections of materials, Otlet
Internationals, 1914) 7. (led by the Czech critic Karel Teige) denounced wrote, but its intention will be essentially to
13 See Paul Otlet, Le Le Corbusier and Jeannerets League of Nations visualize ideas, feelings, [and] intentions that lie
Muse International: entry (they found it overly sculptural and behind. It will be an Idearium.19 Otlet stated
Notice-Catalogue (Brussels:
Office Central des metaphorical), moderate internationalists (Otlet that the World City would set bibliographical
Assiciations Internationals, included) embraced the schemes poetic qualities and documentary standards for the maintenance
1914) 9. despite its seeming departure from functionalist and preservation of cultures around the world
14Les rpercussions de dogma: it integrated Le Corbusiers novel pilotis- and that it would act as a a meeting place to dis-
cette interdpendance dev-
enue plus troite, engen- based structural system, creating large, open cuss and exchange political, social, and cultural
dreront dsormais violence, spaces built of steel and reinforced concrete (the ideas. Its mission resembled that of the League
dsordre, chaos plus dsas- new materials of the day), but its grand entrance of Nations in that it sought to foster peace and
treux encore si lide dor-
ganisation ny vient and picturesque gardens were reminiscent of security, but it differed in that its role was pri-
apporter coordination et Baroque palace architecture. marily to be cultural and intellectual. The World
sublimer linterdpendance In their joint publication Mundaneum (1928), City was to maintain a network of relationships
elle-mme jusqu la soli- Otlet and Le Corbusier outlined their plans for with regional museums and institutions from
darit. Paul Otlet,
Mundaneum (Brussels: the World City. Otlet stated that the project was around the world, the majority of which would
LUnion des Associations to be built on the shores of Lake Geneva, con- be beholden to uniformly applied guidelines.
Internationales, 1928) 3. sisting of a scientific association, museum, In their design, Le Corbusier and Jeanneret
15 See Paul Otlet, Le
Muse International: library, university, and institute Together, sited a series of low-rise residential units along a
Notice-Catalogue (Brussels: they assume the functions of research, docu- garden-draped boulevard which opened onto a
Office Central des mentation, discussion, collaboration, and teach- sports complex and the World Citys campus
Assiciations Internationals, ing.17 According to Otlet, the goal of the World proper (Figure 4, 5). Their public buildings,
1914); Kenneth Frampton,
The Humanitarian v. the City was to have as its object the demonstra- organized around the proposals minor axis, fea-
Utilitarian Ideal, tion of the actual state of the world, of its mech- tured wide-open plazas that allowed each struc-
Architectural Design 38: 3 anisms, complexity the general problems that ture to assert its distinct identity. They made
(1968). impose themselves upon the attention of a peo- provisions for docking and railway stations, an
16 Kenneth Frampton, Le
Corbusier (New York: ple and its citizens and its leaders.18 Otlet did airport, highway, and extensive system of foot-
Thames & Hudson, 2001) not spell out how anyone would actually live in paths. Although in his conceptual schemas Otlet

85
83-84. intended that the World City be conceived on
17Cest lAssociation sci-
entifique, le Muse, la an global scale (in relation to other intellectual
Bibliothque, lUniversit, l centers world-wide), as well as on an architec-
Institut. Ensemble ils assu- tural and regional level, Le Corbusier focused
ment les fonctions de
recherche, de documentation, almost exclusively on the projects relationship
de discussion, de collabora- to its immediate physical location. He made
tion, denseignement. Paul extensive provisions for automobile facilities and
Otlet, Mundaneum transportation infrastructure, but he entirely
(Brussels: LUnion des
Associations ignored larger-scale telecommunications issues,
Internationales, 1928) 6. many of which were already being discussed by
18[His goal was to] avoir architects and planners during the 1920s.
pour objet une dmonstra- Instead, Le Corbusier and Jeanneret focused pri-
tion de ltat actuel du
monde, de son mcanisme, marily on the planning of the World City cam-
compelex des problmes pus itself, many of whose buildings looked Perspective View, World Museum. (Reproduced by per-
gnraux qui simposent more inward than outward. Indeed, the focal mission from the Le Corbusier Archive, Fondation Le
dune manire permanent
lattention des peuples et point of their design was the ziggurat-shaped Corbusier, Paris, France).
leurs dirigeants. Paul World Museum ([t]he terrain has its culminat-
Otlet, Mundaneum ing point at the place of the World Museum, It was to contain as Le Corbusier reports
(Brussels: LUnion des Le Corbusier wrote20), whose profile dominated statistics and iconographies, graphics situated
Associations
Internationales, 1928). the World Citys skyline. Seemingly withdrawn throughout, as well as images, scientific recon-
19[Le muse] y aura from the world, unfolding, as Le Corbusier structions products natural and artificial,
prsentation dobjets et describes it, like a film [in] slow motion, the etc.22 It was to be a testament to the emergence
densembles matriels, mais
le but essentiel sera de visu- World Museum was to narrate the history of of a new global consciousness, one that tran-
aliser les ides, les senti- mankind from its primal beginnings. As Le scended the nationalisms that defined the nine-
ments, les intentions placs Corbusier commented, teenth century. For Le Corbusier, the World
larrire Ce sera This form is a triple nave that unrolls along a Museum was a gathering point for the worlds
unIdearium. Paul Otlet,
Mundaneum (Brussels: spiral. At the start of the spiral: on top, pre-his- citizens that brought together all aspects of cul-
LUnion des Associations toric times then the first historical epoch. ture and society into a single place, and allowed
Internationales, 1928). And descending the spiral, the following [his- for the democratic exchange of ideas and beliefs
20 Paul Otlet, torical epoch] and the next, the entirety of world at a neutral site. Above all, its helicoidal shape
Mundaneum (Brussels:
LUnion des Associations civilization. History and archeology accumulate evoked the Biblical Tower of Babel.23 In other
Internationales, 1928) 33. more and more documents. We learn more and words, Otlet and Le Corbusier sought to evoke
21Cette forme est une more how man maintained himself through dif- the primal origins of culture, much like
triple nef se droulant au
long dune spirale : en haut, ferent periods of cultural organization. The dio- Neurath and Arntz later on in the 1930s. Faced
les temps prhistoriques et rama becomes more and more vast and more with the fallout from the first World War the
la reprsentation succincte and more precise. The spiral enlarges its spiral, antagonisms, the buried enmity, the fear of fur-
dailleurs saissante que the space is augmented. The exhibition of ther conflict Le Corbusier wanted to give
nous en avons. Puis les pre-
mires poques dites his- objects in space and time provoke [one] like a nations a means by which to develop a common
toriques. Et descendant la clamor getting stronger and stronger. sense of history and tradition, and he and
spirale, la suite les unes Everything is linked together; every act, crazy, Jeanneret seized on the ziggurat form as a means
des autres, toutes les civili-
sations mondiales. Lhistoire egotistical, reckless, or disinterested, has its con- of representing global unity. This was in the
et larchologie accumulant sequence. The map of the world gets larger, spirit of Le Corbusiers purist works, a stage in
de plus en plus les docu- modifies, pounds like a prize in a slow- his career that ran concurrently with his work
ments. Nous savons de plus motion cinema. What a lesson! 21 on the World City. For Le Corbusier, as well as
en plus comment lhomme
sest maintenu travers les Le Corbusiers World Museum symbolized for the painter Amde Ozenfant (with whom
formes diffrentes de lor- both the end and beginning of history, bringing he started the purist movement), purism was an
ganisation et de la culture. a new globalized order to fruition, as Otlet aesthetic that restored unity to art and architec-
Le diorama devient de plus would have termed it, and inaugurating (sym- ture, reviving Platonic geometries and ideal pro-
en plus vaste et de plus en
plus prcis. La spirale bolically speaking) a period of harmony and portional systems. For Le Corbusier, the World
agrandit son droulement, cooperation between the countries of the world. City and its ziggurat-shaped World Museum

86
la place augment. were but further iterations of the desire for known to entice herds of strangers out of street
Lexposition des objets dans
le lieu et le temps provoque absolute clarity and proportion, derived as they cars and into his Museum of Society and
comme une clameur de were from the Pythagorean Golden Section. Economy for a late-night tour (no doubt much
plus en plus forte. Tout Inspired by the same spirit of pacificism and public pleading was involved). He boasted, in
senchane ; tous les actes
fous, goistes, tmraires ou global peace, Neurath shared Le Corbusiers addition, that two thousand visitors saw his muse-
dsintresss ont leur con- longing for peace and cooperation between um daily, usually during quick coffee breaks from
squence La carte du nations. Like Le Corbusier, he also believed that work. Nevertheless, Neurath gained a great deal
monde grandit, se modifie, appealing to universal systems of representa- from his exchanges with Otlet, particular with
palpite comme une florai-
son prise au ralenti du cin- tion whether pictoral graphics or Golden regard to standardization. In the World City,
ma. Quel enseignement ! Sections could help mend the worlds differ- [o]ne will collect and conserve objects, Otlet
Paul Otlet, Mundaneum, ences on a cultural and social level. More than wrote, but they will never have to be rare or pre-
(Brussels: LUnion des simply internationalists, however, the triumvi- cious, [as] copies and reproductions will suffice in
Associations
Internationales, 1928) 36- rate Neurath, Otlet and Le Corbusier viewed backing up ideas.25 In many regards, Neurath
37. human beings as biological animals whose facul- picked up on just this sentiment and put it to the
22les statistiques, li- ties of perception were identical for everyone, furthest extreme. If you can reproduce an entire
conographie, les graphiques
situent tout ;les regardless of ethnicity or belief. Indeed, increas- collection, why cant you copy entire museums,
graphiques, les images ingly over the course of the 1930s, Neurath building included? As I hope to show, Neurath
transmises, les reconstitu- would characterize his pictoral graphics as signs was to stress this vein of thinking in his own work,
tions scientifiques, etc whose grammar and syntax was naturally suited but only after engaging Otlets ideas for an exten-
[d]es produits naturels ou
artificiels, etc.Paul Otlet, to the in-born proclivities of the optic nerves. sive period of time.
Mundaneum (Brussels: Similarly, from his early writings on purism Neurath first visited Otlet at the World Palace
LUnion des Associations onwards, Le Corbusier spoke of his abstract in the summer of 1929. Neither of them spoke
Internationales, 1928) 36-
37. geometries in terms of their being projections of the others language fluently (Neurath wrote in
23 For a treatment of the primary sensations native to human experi- his native German, while Otlet, in French), yet
symbolic and cosmological ence. As for Otlet, he considered himself an they felt an immediate affinity that smoothed
significance of the World apologist of the empiricist philosophy of over any communications barrier. I would like
Museum, see Alfred Willis,
The Exoteric and Esoteric Herbert Spencer, August Comte, and the ratio- to repeat again, Neurath wrote in a letter date
Functions of Le Corbusiers nalist legal scholar Edmond Picard, and he July 6th, immediately after his return from
Mundaneum, Modulus believed passionately that the ordering of Brussels, that the incredibly set-up of you
(1980-1981). human knowledge could be conducted as ratio- museum, [your] tough chase after all-encom-
24 Dario Matteoni and
Giuliano Gresleri, La Citt nally as the ordering of nature herself.24 passing international plans made a deep impres-
Mondiale (Venice: Marsilio Yet differences would also emerge in their work. sion on me. I would happily guess, provided we
Editori, 1982) 65. Neurath, for one, was deeply inspired by the orient our workshops and scientific partnership
25 On collectionnera et
on conserva des objets, he grandeur of Le Corbusiers World City design, but toward doing quality work in the service of the
writes,mais ils ne devront in his own collaborations with Otlet he began to future Mundaneum, that we would be able to
pas ncessairement tre emphasize the decentralizing and decentering give your plans a technically complete shape
rares ou prcieux, des tendencies exhibited by mass forms of communi- [Gestalt] and complement our own work.26 A
copies et des reproductions
tant suffisantes pour venir cation, as well as by modern museums. In other week later, Neurath forwarded Otlet the mission
appui des ides. Paul words, while Le Corbusier conceived of the World statement of his Museum of Society and
Otlet, Mundaneum Museum as a hermetically-sealed facility, Neurath Economy, which he had published in Viennas
(Brussels: LUnion des
Associations interpreted Otlets vision on a much more com- sterreichische Gemeinde-Zeitung [Austrian
Internationales, 1928) 10. prehensive scale. He wanted to dispense as much Municipal News] in 1925.27 In that 1925 docu-
26Ich mchte aber information as possible to as many people as pos- ment, Neurath asserted that there was an unspo-
nochmals wiederholen, sible. Le Corbusier picked up on the monasticism ken demand for social museums in contempo-
reported an emphatic
Neurath in a July 6th letter, latent to Otlets thinking, while Neurath spun out rary culture, that is to say, institutions that could
da_ mir die gewaltige a more public interpretation of his work that relate the importance of macro-social forces (the
Anlage Ihres Museums, die made the undifferentiated masses its focal point, balance of trade between nations, for example)
zhe Verfolgung rather than the contemplative museum connois- to the everyday life of the average worker. He
umfassender internationaler
Plne tiefen Eindruck auf seur. This effort to forge a museum for the mass- lamented the then-prevalent tendency of equat-
mich gemacht hat. Ich es was not new to Neurath. In Vienna, he was ing museums with curiosity cabinets (i.e.,

87
wrde mich glcklich Geneva, July-August 1919, Neurath later
schtzen, wenn wir unsere
auf Qualittsarbeit wrote, in a July 31st board meeting of the
eingestellten international participants of the exhibition, at
Ausstellungswerksttten the suggestion of the World Association of
und die wissenschaftliche
Arbeitsgemeinschaft Peoples Federations, under the auspices of Mr.
dauernd in den Dienst des Maurette, the department chief of the
zuknftigen Mundaneums International Workers Bureau, Director Otlet
stellen drfen, um Ihren and Director Neurath decided to establish an
Plnen technisch jeweils
eine mglichst vol- institution which would have as its task the cre-
lkommene Gestalt zu geben ation of an Atlas of World Culture.31
und um manches aus In October of 1929, Otlet and Neurath for-
unserer Arbeit heraus zu malized this announcement by signing a joint
ergnzen. Ich glaube, da_
unser Archiv fr pic- protocol agreement which pledged extensive
tographische Erziehung List of listeners in attendance at Paul Otlets August 2nd, cooperation between their respective institu-
und unser Archiv fr tions. The agreement, tenable for a period of
Sozialstatistik manches 1929 World City presentation at the Union of
enthalten wird, was Ihnen International Associations meeting. Otto Neuraths name two years, was known as the Novus Orbis Pictus
und Ihren Mitarbeitern is third from the top. (Reproduced by permission from N.O.P., Brussels, Geneva, Vienna Protocol.
zusagt. Letter from Otto the Paul Otlet Archive, Mundaneum, Mons, Belgium). The acronym N.O.P., literally New Orbis
Neurath to Paul Otlet, July Pictus, was a reference both to the initials of
6, 1929, Paul Otlet Papers,
Mundaneum. places for housing strange and exotic objects), Otlet and Neurath and to an early encyclopedic
27 Letter from Otto and he called upon like-minded socialists to picture book by Johann Amos Comenius known
Neurath to Paul Otlet, July embrace the use of mass media technologies as Orbis Sensualium Pictus (1658) (Figure 8). It
6, 1929, Paul Otlet Papers,
Mundaneum. (e.g., models, films, slide shows, also illustra- called for the creation of an autonomous entity
28 Otto Neurath, tions, lectures, publications and all other appro- that would oversee relations between the
Gesellschafts- und priate means) in a museological context.28 Museum of Society and Economy and the
Wirtschaftsmuseum in Towards the end of July, in 1929, Neurath World Palace. The N.O.P. was to be overseen by
Wien, Gesammelte
Bildpdagogische Schriften. traveled to Geneva to hear Otlet speak at the Anna Oderfeld and Lothian Small of the World
vol. 3. eds. Rudolf Haller annual meeting of the Union of International Association of Peoples Federations [Weltverband
and Robin Kinross. Associations, an organization Otlet started in der Vlkerbundlingen], who were based in
(Vienna: Hlder-Pichler- 1910 with the aim of providing an internation- Geneva, but the core parties were still Otlet and
Tempsky, 1991) 2.
Originally published in al framework for intellectual relations for Neurath themselves.
sterreichische Gemeinde- museums, universities, libraries, and intergov- In effect, the mission of the N.O.P. was to
Zeitung. 2:16 (1925): 1-12 ernmental organizations all throughout the campaign for the creation of a network of muse-
29 W. Boyd Rayward,
Introduction, world.29 This two-day summit, which took place ums dispersed throughout the world and to
International Organisation from the 2nd to the 3rd of August, ran in con- publish a series of books on a range of subjects;
and Dissemination of junction with the third biennial conference of specifically, a universal atlas containing geo-
Knowledge: Selected Essays the World Federation of Education graphical, climactic, social, and economic maps
of Paul Otlet, ed., W. Boyd
Rayward (Amsterdam: Associations, where Otlet and his World Palace about all regions of the world and their histories;
Elsevier, 1990) 5. presented an exhibit entitled Atlas of a specialist atlas for individual professions and
30 World Federation of Civilization between July 25 and August 5, targeted age groups; a world encyclopedia, with
Education Associations:
Third Biennial Conference, 1929 (Figure 6).30 That Neurath was eager to images and accompanying text; a childrens
Geneva, Switzerland, July engage Otlets ideas is attested to by the fact that book series, a childrens newspaper, and an adult
25-August 4, 1929, 1929, he was among the first to enter his name among newspaper. The museums, on the other hand,
Paul Otlet Papers, those who attended Otlets World City presen- known as Mundaneums, were to be standard-
Mundaneum.
31 Whrend des tation (Figure 7). Moreover, during the World ized according to specifications drafted jointly
Kongresses des Federation of Education Associations meeting, by the Museum of Society and Economy and
Weltverbandes der pda- Neurath and Otlet publicly announced plans to Otlets World Palace. As stated in the statutes of
gogische Vereinigungen in begin to work on a series of book and exhibition the protocol agreement (which Neurath drafted,
Genf, Juli-August 1929,
wurde am 31. Juli in einem projects. During the Congress of the World but with Otlets blessings), [t]he Institute
Aussschu_ internationalen Federation of Education Associations in Novus Orbis Pictus, hereinafter called

88
Teilnehmer der Ausstellung, N.O.P., seeks to promote enlightenment
ber Anregung des
Weltverbandes der through pictures, in particular books and exhi-
Vlkerbundlingen, unter bitions. 32 The document adds,
dem Vorsitz des Herrn The Atlas of World Culture Novus Orbis
Maurette, Departementchef
des Internationalen Pictus should be disseminated throughout the
Arbeitsamtes, Direktor und world, the material of the World Museum
Direktor Neurath die (Mundaneum) copied in as many regional
Einrichtungen eines museums as possible. Thus the World Museum
Instituts bertrage, da_ die
Schaffung eines will consist primarily of reproducible pieces
Weltkmultur-Atlasses zur stuck together. The Institute will seek to collab-
Aufgabe hat. Otto orate with associations and learned organiza-
Neurath, Paul Otlet, Anna tions from all countries, in particular interna-
Oderfeld, and Lothian
Small, Novus Orbis tional organizations. Both creations of the
Pictus (NOP), Brssel- N.O.P. have been established with the interest of
Genf-Wien Protokoll, consolidating scientific research, as well as
1929, Paul Otlet Papers,
Mundaneum. spreading and democratizing knowledge and its
32Das InstitutNovus instruments to disseminate social education
orbis pictus, im folgenden throughout the world.33
immer N.O.P genannt, ist Neurath and Otlet divided up their responsi-
dazu bestimmt, bildhafte
Aufklrung auf jede Weise, bilities as follows: while the Museum of Society
insbesondere durch and Economy was to look after resolving design
Verffentlichlichungen und issues the construction and maintenance of
Ausstellungen zu unter-
sttzen. Otto Neurath and exhibits, as well as overseeing publication of the
Paul Otlet, Statuten des atlas of civilization the World Palace was to
Novus Orbis Pictus NOP, assume control of assembling, classifying, and Sketch by Otto Neurath. Acronym NOP refers both to
Brssel-Genf-Wien, 1929, organizing each project on a macro-level.34 Novus Orbis Pictus and the first and last initials of Otlet
Paul Otlet Papers, and Neurath. The elephant represents Neurath himself (it
Mundaneum. What we from the Mu-So-Ec [Museum of
was a common way for him to sign his letters).
33Der Weltkultur- Society and Economy] will contribute would be (Reproduced by permission from the Paul Otlet Archive,
AtlasNovus orbis pictus the method of pictoral statistics and the system- Mundaneum, Mons, Belgium).
soll in mglichst vielen atic cartographic execution [of projects], as well
Lndern verbreitet werden,
das Material des as the intensive wish to illustrate all The two sought to build unity between their insti-
Weltmuseums chrono[grams], topo[grams], and quanto[grams] tutions, familiarizing themselves with the others
(Mundaneum) in through copies, texts, etc., Neurath wrote. work. At the same time, they sought to solicit
mglichst vielen
Landesmuseen kopiert wer- What the World Palace would be contributing sponsorship from curators, museum directors, sci-
den. Daher wird das would be a striving toward comprehensiveness entists, and politicians from all of the world.
Weltmuseum vorwiegend and systematicity in the early stages of work, the One of their earliest allies was the American
aus reproduzierbaren abundance of objects, pictures, contemporary journalist, author, and curator Waldemar
Stcken zusammengesetzt
werden. Das Institut wird artistic expressions of all kinds, distinguishing Kaempffert, who directed the Chicago Museum
die Mitarbeit von Vereinen text, and the wish to be as exacting as possi- of Science and Industry between 1928 and 1931.
und Gelehrten aller Lnder, ble.35 Neurath added that the World Palace Kaempffert was a science editor at The New York
insbesondere die der inter-
nationalen Organisationen would be expected to continue its work with Le Times from 1927 to 1928, and again from 1931
zu gewinnen suchen. Beide Corbusier and Jeanneret on the World City in onwards, and was instrumental in bringing
Schpfungen des N.O.P. Geneva, and that this city, if built, would Neuraths ideas to the United States during the
sind Einrichtungen im anchor and administer the dissemination of 1930s. As Kaempffert maintained in his two-vol-
Interesse der Verbindung
wissenschaftlicher knowledge to individual Mundaneum institutes. ume Popular History of American Inventions
Forschung, sowie der In the fall of 1929, Otlet visited with Neurath in (1924), he believed (much like Nuerath) that the
Verbreitung und Vienna, where he and his wife enjoyed the compa- organization of large-scale, technologically-based
Demokratisierung des ny of Neurath, his wife Olga Hahn, his collabora- systems of power was key to the democratization
Wissens und Instrumente
zur planmigen tors at the Museum of Society and Economy, and of knowledge and culture.36 Kaempffert was very
Ausbreitung sozialer officials from the Vienna municipal government. receptive to Neurath and the N.O.P., particular-

89
Bildung auf der ganzen ly with respect to the formers suggestion that political scientist Ernst Jckh.42 Jckh was
Erde. Otto Neurath and
Paul Otlet, Statuten des forming a large-scale museum cooperative involved in the Deutscher Werkbund, which was
Novus Orbis Pictus NOP, could help coordinate the dissemination of formed in 1907 with the aim of enhancing the
Brssel-Genf-Wien, 1929, knowledge. The idea that a unified supply of quality of German design and encouraging
Paul Otlet Papers,
Mundaneum. museums should exist, led us to the thought of greater interaction between between the arts,
34 Otto Neurath, Paul building a museum cooperative, Neurath industry, and society at large. Though in later
Otlet, Anna Oderfeld, and wrote, whose technical work, inasmuch as it years Neurath took objection to the Werkbunds
Lothian Small, Novus entails photocopies and other such work, could tendency toward aesthetic formalism (its obses-
Orbis Pictus (NOP),
Brssel-Genf-Wien be carried out in Chicago (at your museum); sion with the flat-roof aesthetic, as architect
Protokoll, 1929, Paul Otlet inasmuch as it entails pictoral representations or Josef Frank once called it), he identified with its
Papers, Mundaneum; Otto certain building models, it could be done by us efforts to apply principles of mass standardiza-
Neurath and Paul Otlet, in Vienna, where the technical work of the tion in the realm of design, as well as the coop-
Statuten des Novus Orbis
Pictus NOP, Brssel-Genf- N.O.P. is concentrated. As soon as I hear Otlets erative, communally-based philosophy on
Wien, 1929, Paul Otlet position on these plans, I will make a more con- which the organization was based.43 In 1929,
Papers, Mundaneum. crete offer to you. I cannot say anything defini- Neurath took a leading role in forming the
35Was wir vom Ge-Wi-
Mu [Gesellschafts- und tive on behalf of the N.O.P. without Otlet.37 newly-formed Austrian Werkbund [sterreichis-
Wirtschaftsmuseum] beis- Kaempffert relationship with the N.O.P. was che Werkbund] and also became a frequent con-
teuern, wre die Methode more an intellectual kinship than anything, but tributor to the Deutscher Werkbunds theoretical
der Bildstatistik und die nonetheless he did visit Neurath and Otlet on journal Die Form.
systematische kartographis-
che Durcharbeitung, sowie separate occassions in the fall of 1929. Moreover, In his own article in Die Form, Jckh
der intensive Wunsch, alle in 1932 his Museum of Science and Industry announced plans for an International
Chrono-Topo- und hosted an exhibit about coal mining and manu- Werkbund Exhibition (Die neue Zeit or The
Quantogramme durch
Abbildungen, Texte usw. zu facturing, which Neurath curated under the aus- New Era it was to be called) in Cologne, and
illustrieren. Vom Palais pices of the Museum of Society and Economy. both Neurath and Otlet were inspired by the
Mondial hingegen wre In tandem with his hopes of creating a ratio- ambition and scope of the proposal. Jckh called
beizusteuern ein Streben nal cooperative organization for museum cura- for an encyclopedic, Gesamtkunstwerk-like exhi-
nach umfassender
Systematik in die tors and directors, Neurath and Otlet initiated bition that would juxtapose the latest achieve-
Anfangsstadien der Arbeit, talks with the International Rationalization ments in architecture, industry, economics, art,
die Flle von Objekten, Institute [Internationales Rationalisierungs- and science, seeking to furnish the spectator
Bildern, zeitgenssischen Institut], with whom they hoped to carry out a with a birds-eye view of contemporary cul-
Kunstuerungen aller Art,
kennzeichnenden Text und number of traveling exhibitions. Neurath also ture. At no point has man become so dominant
der Wunsch, da_ dies alles cultivated ties with the mayor of Magdeburg (in and yet so inconsequential as he has in our own
aufs exakteste ausgefhrt Germany), to whom he suggest[ed] the cre- times, Jckh wrote. Man is no longer the
wird. Letter from Otto
Neurath to Paul Otlet, July ation of a permanent museum,38 while Otlet anthropocentric mass of things, but rather a
6, 1929, Paul Otlet Papers, courted authorities in Poznan, Poland. We see microbic quantum-atom in this vast universe.44
Mundaneum. the institution [the Poloneum, Otlet called it] Neurath and Otlet were moved by the spirit of
36 Arthur P. Molella, being established in the capital of Varsovie.39 rationality that inspired Jckhs macrocosmic
Mumford in
Historiographical Context, Otlet wrote to the Soviets with a proposal to conception contemporary culture. As Neurath
Lewis Mumford: Public build regional museums and historical muse- wrote in the pages of Die Form, it makes sense
Intellectual, eds., Thomas P. ums of civilization,40 while Neurath contacted that the Werkbund design brings to conscious-
Hughes and Agatha C.
Hughes (New York and the director of the Vredes- en Volken- ness the world picture of our times, especially
Oxford: Oxford UP, 1990) bondstentoonstelling in the Netherlands. In 1930, if it must be said that [this world picture] deals
35-37. Neurath and Otlet were visited individually by on many levels with logical and mathematical
37Der Gedanke, da_ officials from the Museum of the City of New thought processes, that are not easy [to imag-
eine Belieferung von
Museen stattfinden soll, hat York and by the Committee on the Association ine], but still must be visualized for the visitor.
uns zu dem Gedanken of American Museums, both of which expressed Because it is characteristic of our times that
gefhrt, eine interest in the N.O.P., and who pledged, in many of our most meaningful intellectual
Museumsgenossenschaft addition, to help support their aims.41 achievements are playing themselves out in the
auf kooperativer Grundlage
zu bilden, die ihre technis- A further figure from whom Neurath and arena of logic.45 Due to a lack of funding,
che Arbeiten, soweit es sich Otlet received great support was a Berlin-based Jckhs New Era Exhibition never came to

90
um Maschinenkopien und distance from the vicissitudes of the market econ-
gewisse andere Arbeiten
handelt, bei Euch in omy, Neurath embraced strategies of modern
Chicago durchfhren kn- mass advertising. All the objects would carry the
nte, soweit es sich um bild- unified name of Orbis, which has the advantage
hafte Darstellungen,
gewisse Baumodelle, han- that we can introduce a copy written brand
delt, bei uns in Wien, wo [Schutzmarke]! Neurath explained. It is psycho-
die technische Arbeiten des logically better, if the object-brands are copy-
N.O.P. konzentriert wer- righted! A kind of global corporation! Then there
den. Sobald ich Otlets
Meinung ber diesen Plan would be propaganda for individual objects
kenne, werde ich Dir einen Orbis propaganda and a propaganda for the
genaueren Vorschlag assemblage of a visual totality Mundaneum
machen. Ich kann ohne propaganda!47 Although Otlet ratified the
Otlet fr das N.O.P.-
Institut nicht sendgltiges restructuring, he did so only hesitantly, sensing
sagen. Letter from Otto Otto Neurath and Gerd Arntz. Elevation rendering of a (correctly) that it represented a shift in priorities.
Neurath to Waldemar standardized museum space, c. 1938-1940.56 But I do continue to find it regrettable and con-
Kaempffert, October 21, (Reproduced by permission from the Otto and Marie
1929, Papers of Paul Otlet, fusing, he wrote in his journals, that the duali-
Neurath Isotype Collection, Department of Typography ty of the name Orbis and Mundaneum was
Mundaneum.
& Graphic Communication, The University of Reading,
38schlagen die
United Kingdon).
done.48 As time wore on, Neurath paid increas-
Schaffung eines ing attention to the Orbis publications (for which
Dauermuseums in
Magdeburg vor. Letter fruition, but his voice nevertheless did help the his own Museum of Society and Economy was
from Otto Neurath to Herr N.O.P align its aims with those of the Deutscher responsible), while the more challenging difficul-
Oberbrgermeister der Werkbund, whose publications and meetings (it ties posed by the Mundaneum project (including
Stadt Magdeburg,
November 29, 1929, Paul was hoped) would provide them with a further the construction of the World City) were left (to
Otlet Papers, Mundaneum. forum in which to voice their aims. The plan a large extent) for Otlet to contend with.
39 Otlets complete state- to create an Orbis magazine, Neurath wrote in A second factor that caused the N.O.P. to
ment, in French : Nous an October 23, 1929 letter to Jckh, an Orbis come to a quick and sudden halt was the stock
voyons linstitution s
tablir dans la capitale childrens newspaper and eventyually a more rig- market crash of 1929. Neurath and Otlet had
Varsovie, confie dans cha- orous journal ought to overlap with your plan hoped to receive philanthropic funding from
cune de ses parties aux of having a New Era publication. Pending the American concerns like the Carnegie
organismes qui ont cr les agreement of Otlet, I would like to emphasize Foundation, and little of any of that was expect-
sections de Poznan ; place
sous une direction centrale, again that the unification of both [our] plans is ed to materialize after the events of Black
sinspirant dun plan de something we should seriously consider.46 Tuesday. As Neurath would report in a memo
coordination, de slection By the middle of 1930, the sense of optimism to Otlet, [a]t the moment, I see the chances of
et synthse. Paul Otlet,
Journal No. 9 and hope that set the N.O.P. into motion was the fight for the Mundaneum, which I am still
1929.12.02, 1929, Paul (unfortunately) all but abandoned. First, in prepared to carry out, not very practical. Stock
Otlet Papers, Mundaneum. December of 1929 the N.O.P. was restructured as market crash in the United States, in almost all
40des muses rgionaux, two separate entities, which caused conflict countries.49 Their correspondence continued
des muses historiques de la
Civilisation. Paul Otlet, between Neurath and Otlet. The N.O.P. was bro- through January of 1930, after which it petered
Journal No. 10 ken down into the Orbis Institute, which was off steeply, with sporadic exchanges over the fol-
1929.12.24, 1929, Paul charged with creating the world atlas of civiliza- lowing four years. Otlet and Neurath had
Otlet Papers, Mundaneum.
41 See Paul Otlet, Journal tion, and the Mundaneum, which set about planned a joint exhibition in the Museum of
No. 14 1930.04.28, building regional museums and exhibitions. Society and Economy in the summer of 1930,
1930, Paul Otlet Papers, Neurath suggested the split because he was trou- but it remains uncertain (as far as the archival
Mundaneum. bled by the cumbersome-sounding Novus Orbis record is concerned) whether the project was ever
42 Letter from Otto
Neurath to Ernst Jckh, Pictus acronym, and felt, moreover, that the carried out. They also continued to publish state-
October 23, 1929, Papers N.O.P. needed a more streamlined image. For ments citing their work together, even if much of
of Paul Otlet, Neurath, the publics perception of the organiza- it had already been behind them. In 1931, Otlet
Mundaneum; Letter from tion was of paramount importance, especially published The Visualization of Human
Otto Neurath to I. Urwick,
November 22, 1929, Paul where publishing and fundraising were con- Collaboration, where he discussed his World
Otlet Papers, Mundaneum. cerned. Contra Otlet, who sought to maintain City plans in the context of his work with

91
43 For a discussion of Neuraths Museum of Society and Economy.50 In
Neuraths involvement in
the Deutscher Werkbund, addition, Neurath sought to revive the N.O.P.
see Margarethe Engelhardt- later on (When will we finally begin work on
Krajanek, Der the Atlas for Civilization? he wrote in 1932),
Werkbundgedanke und
seine Verbindung zum but their much-anticipated collaboration never
Wiener Kreis am Beispiel got very far, not in practical terms As early as
von Josef Frank, 1930, Neurath tried to include Otlet and the
Konstruktion zwischen World Palace in producing Society and Economy
Werkbund und Bauhaus:
Wissenschaft-Architektur- (1930), a book he made containing one hundred
Wiener Kreis, ed., Volker oversized plates designed by the Museum of
Thurm-Nemeth (Vienna: Society and Economy, but the organization that
Hlder-Pichler-Tempsky, commissioned the project the Bibliographical
1998).; regarding Neuraths
critique of the Deutscher Institute in Leipzig ultimately rejected the idea.
Werkbund, see Otto Nevertheless, the impact that Otlet had for
Neurath, Die interna- Neuraths own career was dramatic, particularly
tionale Werkbundsiedlung
Wien als Ausstellung, in terms of how he helped Neurath reinvent his
Die Form 8 (1932). Museum of Society and Economy as an interna-
44 Zu keiner Zeit ist der tional body, both in theory as well as in practice.
Mensch so beherrschend To speak first of Neuraths concrete endeavors, in
gro_ d zugleich so ver-
schwindend klein gewoden 1931 Neurath began the Vienna Mundaneum
wie in unserer Zeit der [Mundaneum Wien], an institute whose mission
Mensch nicht mehr das was to oversee international traveling exhibits and Flyer for the World Federation of Education Associations
anthropozentrische Ma_
der Dinge, sondern ein exhibitions commissioned to the Museum of in Geneva (Reproduced by permission from the Paul
mikrobisches Quantenatom Society and Economy (Figure 9). It received little Otlet Archive, Mundaneum, Mons, Belgium).
des Weltalls. Ernst Jckh, assistance from Otlet (not practically anyway),
Idee und Realisierung der but he used the name nonetheless with Otlets Society and Economy away from class-based con-
Internationalen Werkbund-
Ausstellung Die neue blessings. That year, Neurath also established the cerns to communication- and linguistically-based
Zeit Kln 1932, Die Isostat Institute in Moscow, which gave him a issues. While during the 1920s the Museum was
Form 4: 15 (1929) 406. foothold in Soviet Russia. In 1932, the Museum primarily concerned with the plight of the work-
45Es hat einen guten of Society and Economy was donated permanent er with the gap, that is, that separated the haves
Sinn, da_ der
Werkbundentwurf zur exhibition space by Amsterdams Museum van de from the have-nots, both intellectually and eco-
Einfhrung das Weltbild Arbeit and Londons Association for Adult nomically during the 1930s Neurath came to
unserer Zeit zum Education, and the following year Neurath see his mission increasingly as linguistic struggle,
Bewu_tsein bringt, wenn
auch gesagt werden mu_, opened the Hague Mundaneum (also known as not an economic one. He was concerned more
da_ es sich dabei vielfach the International Foundation for the Promotion and more about the flow of information between
um logisch-mathematische of Visual Education by the Vienna Method).51 In nations rather than between classes. The most vis-
Denkprozesse handelt, die 1934, the Russell Sage Foundation helped ible expression of this shift occurred in 1935,
man nicht leicht, aber
immerhin dem Beschauer Neurath open and coordinate Pictoral Statistics, when when Neurath began to refer to his graph-
anschaulich machen kann. Inc., which was based in New York. ic methods collectively as the International
Denn es ist fr unsere Zeit In a theoretical sense, Otlet influenced the System of Typographic Picture Education or
kennzeichnend, da_ viele
ihrer bedeutsamsten image and structure of the Museum of Society Isotype, and as he became more enamored of the
gedanklichen Neuerungen and Economy. He gave Neurath a new conceptu- project of creating an International Encyclopedia
sich bereits im logischen al framework within with to think about his of Unified Science.52 That is to say, rather than
Gebiet abspielen. Otto museum endeavors. The decentralized model using the more provincial-sounding Vienna
Neurath, Die neue Zeit,
Die Form 21 (1929) 136. that Neurath adopted during the 1930s creat- Method of Pictoral Statistics, which aligned
46 Der Plan, eine Orbis- ing museums throughout the world, but with a Neuraths graphic techniques with a specific geo-
Magazin zu schaffen, eine central institution as their anchor was a strat- graphical location (namely Vienna), in 1935
Orbis-Kinderzeitschrift und egy he borrowed from Otlet. Moreover (and Neurath began to redefine the image of his muse-
eventuell ein strengeres
Journal drfte sich in more importantly perhaps), Otlet helped um philosophy in a more global light. At the
vielem mit Ihrem Plan Neurath shift the priorities of the Museum of same time, he became more acutely aware of the

92
einer Zeitschrift Die neue need to forge a common scientific language that parted ways, their mutual influence upon one
Zeit berhren.
Vorbehaltlich der reversed the trend of intellectual specialization, another was undeniable. Architecturally speak-
Zustimmung Otlets, and which made made knowledge more accessi- ing, Otlets World City, the designs for which
mchte ich nochmals beto- ble across national boundaries. As Neurath were prepared by Le Corbusier and Jeanneret,
nen, da_ eine Vereinigung
der beiden Plnen ernsthaft remarked in his International Picture Language, motivated Neurath to engage problems of com-
ins Auge zu fassen wre. [r]eading a picture is like making observations munication posed by international bodies and
Letter from Otto Neurath with the eye in everyday experience: what we may institutions. Otlet also brought to Neuraths
to Ernst Jckh, October 23, say about a language picture is very like what we attention the need to formulate a strategy of
1929, Papers of Paul Otlet,
Mundaneum. may say about other things seen by the eye. For information sharing that linked centers of cul-
47Alle Objekte wurden example: the man has two legs; the picture-sign tural production (culture capitals such as the
dann einheitliche den has two legs; but the word-sign man has not two World City) to the outer-most edge of a society.
Orbis Namen fhren, was legs.53 The concept that Isotypes were natural, While Le Corbusier identified an architectural
auch den groen Vorteil
htte, dass wir eine ein- that is to say, intelligible to everyone regardless of solution to the problem, Neuraths subsequent
heitliche Schutzmarke ein- nationality, was a conviction he first began to work led him to explore graphic- and informa-
fhren knnten! Es ist psy- articulate in one of his many exchanges with tion-intensive solutions that relied heavily on
chologisch besser, wenn die
Objekte-Marke einheitlich Otlet, even though he first began to publicize this mass reproduction. While Le Corbusier and
ist! Eine Art Weltfirma! view during the mid-1930s. As Neurath wrote to Jeanneret were ultimately to propose a mam-
Dann Gbe es eine Otlet in 1929, we must have an international moth, seven-story helicoidal structure that hon-
Propaganda fr word for every mass of pictures! Quantogram ored the unity of all cultures, Neurath, through
Einzelobjekte Orbit-
Propaganda und eine works also with Teleki-Diagrams [Tafeln]! his graphic studies with Arntz, sought to cele-
Propaganda fr Pictogram? Also Pictocartogram, pictochrono- brate the interchangeability of cultures, the fact
Zusammenstellungen als gram, pictoquantogram. Although I do not find that abstract types could substitute particular
Schaugesamtheit
Mundaneum these creations terrible charming. But chemical cultural traditions. Neuraths efforts to theorize
Propaganda! Letter from formulas are also just boring!54 universal spaces in the late 1930s were influ-
Otto Neurath to Paul For Neurath, museums had to offer a transna- enced by his exposure to Le Corbusiers work,
Otlet, October 22, 1929, tional means of communicating, an Esperanto- which sought to forge a universal temple of
Paul Otlet Papers,
Mundaneum, OP 100. like language as universal as the laws of nature. culture. This quest for the Tower of Babel, for
48Mais je dois persister This view was something he only cultivated, as the origins of language, was an aspiration that
croire regrettable et con- Ive already noted, after coming into contact the architect Le Corbusier shared with Neurath,
fusible la dualit de nom with Otlet, who introduced him to the concept but which would be mediated by Neuraths spir-
Orbis et Mundaneum tait
donn. Paul Otlet, Journal of the World City. Although the two eventually ited (if short-lived) relationship with Paul Otlet.
No. 7 1929.11.20, 1929,
Paul Otlet Papers,
Mundaneum.
49Brsenkrach in New
York, Krisen in fast allen
Lndern Selbst der
Orbis-Plan stsst auf groe
finanzielle Schwierigkeiten,
obglich ich mit Hochdruck
fr ihn wirke. Letter from
Otto Neurath to Paul
Otlet, July 6, 1929, Paul
Otlet Papers, Mundaneum.
50 See Paul Otlet, Die
Veranschaulichung der Lcker Verlag, 1982), 246-249. 54Wir mssen fr Mengenbilder usw. Ein besonderes
menschlichen 52 For a discussion of the Ernst Mach Society and its rela- internationales Wort finden! Quantogramm gilt auch von
Zusammenarbeit, Das tionship to the International Encylcopedia of the Unity of Teleki-Tafeln! Piktogramm? Also Pictokartogramm,
werdende Zeitalter 10: 6 Science, see Friedrich Stadler, The Vienna Circle: Studies in Pictochronogramm, Pictoquantogramm. Obgleich ich diese
(1931). the Origisn, Development and Influence of Logical Bildungen nicht bermig entzckend finde. Aber chemis-
51 Friedrich (ed.) Stadler, Empiricism (Vienna and New York: Springer, 2001) 356- che Formeln sind ja auch langweilig! Letter from Otto
Arbeiterbildung in der 371. Neurath to Paul Otlet, October 22, 1929, Paul Otlet
Zwischenkriegszeit: Otto 53 Otto Neurath, International Picture Language (Reading: Papers, Mundaneum.
Neurath Gerd Arntz University of Reading Department of Typography & 55 See note 5.
(Vienna and Munich: Graphic Communication, 1980) 20. 56 See note 5.

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