Rondom Rembrandt and Beyond: On Otto Neurath’s Isotype Contributions to Visual Communication and Museum Learning

Hadwig Kraeutler


For roughly 20 years (1925–1945), Otto Neurath engaged himself with museum and exhibition work. This was part of his preoccupation with the visual. It was these two media (within the orchestration of various social tools) to which Neurath attributed highest effectiveness for the delivery of pertinent information, and empowerment to take part in society’s development, especially concerning that part of the population without access to academic schooling/ habits. Neurath’s practical and theoretical work with museums and exhibitions usually subsumed under the acronym Isotype and identified with ‘pictorial statistics’, challenged museum traditions, and is still considered avant-garde in many aspects. I shall briefly report on practical developments – museum, exhibition work – and on Neurath’s use of terms (picture, picture language, visual education) based on his writings on ‘Bildpädagogik’ (Haller and Kinross 1991, Vol. 3, Collected Writings). In a second strand, I treat some of the topical qualities of his museum and exhibition concepts (their relevance for today), using the booklet International Picture Language (1936), Neurath’s manuscript on ‘Visual Education’ (in Nemeth and Stadler 1996), and the example of the exhibition ‘Rondom Rembrandt’ (1937). Context and some materials: The museological background to this paper is found in my book Otto Neurath: Museums and Exhibition Work. Spaces (Designed) for Communication (2008, Peter Lang; and further research at the Isotype-Collection in Reading/UK which also led to an earlier article ‘Rondom Rembrandt’ ( rondom-rembrandt.html).


20th century philosophy; aesthetics; philosophy; Wittgenstein Ludwig; image; information; isotype; language; museum; Neurath Otto; society; teaching

Full Text:



  • There are currently no refbacks.