Before internet search engines, society had to find alternative ways of sharing information. One of the earliest methods of attempting to create a physical search engine is in the Mundaneum. Sometimes called the “Paper Google,” the Mundaneum is a unique place to visit nearby our hotel by Mons station.
What is the Mundaneum?
The Mundaneum is a museum of information located in Mons. It was founded in 1895 by Paul Otlet and Henri La Fontaine. The period is far before the internet existed, but it didn’t stop the founders from setting their sights on a method of sharing and exchanging information. The founders were promoters of peace and sharing knowledge, two ideals that went into the establishment of the museum.
Housed in the Mundaneum is an intricate archive system that organizes a series of information cards into a Universal Decimal System. By using the system, anyone can locate specific information based on criteria including author, title, or subject. To make their system more effective, information began to be collected from around the world in the form of books, newspapers, postcards, and photographs. These various mediums were consolidated and organized into the system. There was also a network of other museums, libraries, and institutions that contributed to the growth of information available at the museum.
What to do at the Mundaneum?
The Mundaneum is a landmark for European intellect. Although many of the ideas are outdated for modern times, it’s a place to discover how ideas of the past were formed and the attempt to link them together to create new ideas for the future. The museum does a great job of showcasing the past interactively.
The museum has various features. Thousands of oak cabinets are on display which holds the catalog of more than 12-million index cards, each containing a valuable piece of information. Primary topics found in the museum are about history, society, and technology. The original system organizes each of these cards. Visitors are welcome to read through the index cards and try their luck at finding something specific.
There is an interactive terminal that was created in the museum to bring it into the current times. The terminal provides exceptional visual displays of the museum and the information housed within it. Learn about the history of the museum and how to utilize the ordering system of index cards. The terminal also gives a visual representation of the contributors to the information in the museum. It showcases the connection between authors and the topics that they are known for.
Visiting the Mundaneum
The Mundaneum is a unique museum to visit and becoming much more of a novelty as technology advances. The old search system developed by the founders gives implications of how we search for information today, except on a much larger scale. All ages are welcome to explore the unique historical way of sharing information so we can appreciate the ease of tools that we currently have.
The museum was recently awarded the European Heritage Label. It was recognized for its range of educational activities, events hosted at the museum, and conservation efforts of the information.
Visit the Mundaneum on Wednesday-Friday from 13:00 to 17:00, or Saturday-Sunday from 11:00 to 18:00. Audio guides are available or join one of the guided tours by the friendly, knowledgeable staff.
Enjoy your stay at our 4 stars hotel in Mons!