Google pays tribute to Belgium’s inventors

In the late 19th century, Belgian lawyer Paul Otlet created the Universal Bibliography in Brussels, a repository of more than 12 million searchable index cards that later came to be called the Mundaneum. With today’s Google Doodle on the French, Belgian and several other versions of Google, and new online exhibitions by the Mundaneum on the Cultural Institute website, we pay tribute to Otlet's pioneering work in making information accessible and useful.

Throughout history, prolific thinkers and innovators have had the vision to see what the world might look like in the future. Often, they dreamed up today’s most advanced technologies long before it was even possible to create them.

Paul Otlet belongs to that group of thinkers. He had a clear vision for the Mundaneum: a universal system of written, visual, and audio information that people could access from the comfort of their own homes. Just a few decades later, engineers planted the technological seeds that brought electronic information sharing to life.

Created by Googler Leon Hong, today’s Doodle pays tribute to Otlet’s vision. The collection of knowledge stored in the Mundaneum’s wooden drawers form the foundational work for everything that happens at Google and much of what happens across the world wide web.

Today’s Doodle also coincides with the launch of new online exhibitions about Otlet’s work on the Google Cultural Institute website. The modern day Mundaneum museum in Mons, Belgium has curated the exhibitions, which give insight into Paul Otlet’s life and achievements, and the Nobel Prize won by Mundaneum co-founder Henri La Fontaine. You can view the exhibitions on the Cultural Institute website, and in a dedicated mobile app that our engineers developed together with Mundaneum staff. We especially recommend you to check out these three new exhibitions:

Towards the Information Age 
Paul Otlet (1868–1944), founder of the Mundaneum

Mapping Knowledge
The Visualizations of Paul Otlet

Henri La Fontaine (1854-1943), Nobel Peace Prize in 1913

Posted by Pierre Caessa, Program Manager, Google Cultural Institute