Odds and quads: Otto and Marie Neurath Isotype Collection

These charts, pictures and illustrations (see images, right) all form part of the Otto and Marie Neurath Isotype Collection at the University of Reading.

March 17, 2011

Otto Neurath (1882-1945), a distinguished philosopher, economist and sociologist, was best known for his work in visual education, notably the creation of the Isotype pictorial language for presenting complex sociological, techno-logical, biological and historical information in arresting visual form.

He fled his native Vienna after the Anschluss to escape the Nazis, first going to the Netherlands and then to the UK. He set up the Isotype Institute in Oxford and, after his death, his widow Marie, who was a member of the Isotype design team, kept it going for many years.

Their design principles were applied in popular science books, documentary films and even the wartime publications of the UK's Ministry of Information.

The institute's archives were given to Reading in 1971 and have recently been examined in detail via the "Isotype revisited" project carried out by the university's department of typography and graphic communication and funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

Send suggestions for this series on the treasures, oddities and curiosities owned by universities across the world to: matthew.reisz @tsleducation.com.

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