Delphine Jenart, Mundanaeum, Mons, Belgium
Today, the Mundaneum in Mons, Belgium, is an archives center and a temporary exhibitions space with a mission of conserving, preserving and showcasing the archives and collections bequeathed by its founders. But the origins of the Mundaneum go back to the late nineteenth century. Created in Brussels by two Belgian jurists, Paul Otlet (1868-1944), the father of documentation, and Henri La Fontaine (1854-1943), who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1913, the project aimed at gathering the entire world’s knowledge and to file it using the Universal Decimal Classification system that they had created on basis of the American librarian Melvil Dewey’s Decimal Classification system. Today their work is interpreted as the first paper search engine ever imagined in history. It is not by chance that the Mundaneum has been referred to as “The web time forgot” (The New-York Times) or “The paper Google” (Le Monde)! In 2013 the Repertory was added to UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register.
In the digital era, the Mundaneum has already emerged as a wonderful forum for experimentation, bringing together heritage and technological innovation. It is a center that encourages explanations and debates around digital culture with the help of exhibitions, lectures and educational activities. The Mundaneum has closed its doors and is now under reconstruction until 2015 when the city of Mons will turn into a European capital of Culture. More information can be found at www.mundaneum.org or http://digitalarchives.mundaneum.org.