Learn Further about the Peace Palace, The Mundaneum and the Architects of Peace

The Peace Palace and the Mundaneum

Before the Peace Palace was opened in 1913, The Hague was host to the First Peace Conference in 1899. The Peace Palace was built in 1913 with a donation given by the celebrated steel magnate and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. Today, it is home to a number of international judicial institutions, including the International Court of Justice or World Court, the Permanent Court of Arbitration, the renowned Peace Palace Library, as well as the Hague Academy of International Law, which attracts law students from all over the world every summer. This Neo-Renaissance style building and the organizations it houses have given The Hague worldwide recognition as “the international city of Peace and Justice”.

The Mundaneum was created in Brussels, Belgium, at the beginning of the 20th century by Paul Otlet and Nobel Peace Prize winner Henri La Fontaine. It used to be an international documentation Centre aimed at gathering, indexing and sharing the universal knowledge. Its purpose was humanist: the founders of the Mundaneum wanted to contribute to world peace by bridging people through knowledge and culture. Today dubbed “the paper Google”, the Mundaneum offers original exhibits aiming to show the vast collections of its archive Centre. The themes of the exhibitions resonate with the great themes of the institution since its creation (knowledge, peace, citizenship, democracy…) and fall into a constant dialogue between history and perspective.

Our institutions were established by the work and ideals of individuals: Henri La Fontaine and Paul Otlet were advocates of peace through dialogue and sharing knowledge. The Peace Palace came into being by the perseverance of many individuals who strived to abolish war through international law. As Andrew Carnegie’s aim was 'to hasten the abolition of international war, the foulest blot upon our civilization'.

The Architects of Peace

At the turn of the 19th and the 20th century in the Belle Epoque, more than one hundred peace associations were registered. Pacifism had become a sure fact in society and peace organizations flourished while authors reached the people with their powerful pens. Support came from influential and powerful people as Andrew Carnegie and Alfred Nobel. Those were the people who designed the blueprints and ground plans of several important organizations that exist today.

The Mundaneum and the Peace Palace are getting prepared to share the stories of  these “Architects of Peace” and highlight how they have influenced our organizations today. The key figures of this specific time period had a strong network corresponding and coming together at different conferences and congresses in Europe and the United States where they would work out their plans for a better world. Henri La Fontaine, was not only one of the forefathers of the Mundaneum but was present during the official inauguration of the Peace Palace in 1913, the year he received his Nobel Peace Prize.  And In the same year, Andrew Carnegie visited the International Museum in Brussels where he was introduced to the plans of Henri La Fontaine and Paul Otlet for a world centre for information, which later on became the Mundaneum.

From now on, the Peace Palace and the Mundaneum are writing a new page of their common history and join their efforts together to promote Peace heritage at a European level!