Unveiling an international masterpiece

The Timeline of Elements interactive exhibit and Mendeleev Mosaic

2019 International Year of the Periodic Table

 workers hang the timeline mural in the Science Teaching Complex at the University of Waterloo.Chem 13 News and the Department of Chemistry are excited to announce the unveiling of the final pieces of our Timeline of Elements Project!

Both the Timeline of Elements interactive exhibit and the accompanying Mendeleev Mosaic will be highlighted during an official unveiling ceremony on October 26th. The ceremony will take place at the University of Waterloo, in conjunction with the Science Open House happening on the same day. 

We invite our local readers to join us for the unveiling ceremony. Come meet the visionaries behind these projects, faculty chemists and researchers and enjoy some light refreshments. 

What: Timeline of Elements Official Unveiling ceremony

When: Saturday, October 26th, 2019, 1:30 to 2:30 pm

Where: Basement - Lower Commons near Room 0060, Science Teaching Complex (STC),
             University of Waterloo Campus – Complimentary parking available in Lot C

Registration: The event is free – register online!

Wrapping up the Timeline of Elements

Chem 13 News readers will remember our 2011 Periodic Table Project, which produced a wall mural, free mobile app and classroom posters. Inspired by the overwhelming success of this project, and the United Nations’ decision to name 2019 the “International Year of the Periodic Table”, we envisioned creating a timeline of elements to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Dmitri Mendeleev’s publication of the first periodic table in 1869.

The goal was to have chemistry students from around the world join together to create an original and imaginative version of the Timeline of Elements focused on the history of their discovery. The timeline would highlight student artwork, while also providing a resource for learning about the development of one of chemistry’s most recognizable symbols.

In 2018, we sent out a call for teachers to apply (on behalf of their students) to design an artwork for one assigned element. With more than 200 applications, and only 118 elements to create, we held a lottery to determine our periodic table artists.

In the end, the elements were assigned to 118 schools in 28 different countries, including schools from every province and territory within Canada.

A map of participating schools, uWaterloo IYPT 2019 Timeline of Elements project. www.uwaterloo.ca/chemistry/timeline-of-elements

The Timeline of Elements has since been transformed into a suite of multimedia tools designed to get teachers and students alike excited about the history of chemistry.

Visit our Timeline of Elements website and download the interactive pdf. We have included abstracts and links to historical information, as well as the full-sized artwork that will bring the timeline alive for you and your students. A printable copy of the poster is also available.1

The Mendeleev Mosaic

A mosaic of individual portraits of Dimitri Mendeleev.
Dmitri Mendeleev (1834–1907) was a Russian chemist whose paper on the ordering of the elements, published in 1869, eventually became the periodic table as we know it today. He recognized the periodic nature of elements, and was also able to relate the properties of each element to its position on the table, creating what is known as the periodic law. 

Although he did not discover any elements himself, his contributions to the modern periodic table are indisputable. This is why we wanted to honour Mendeleev and his special role in chemistry, while also giving everyone an opportunity to be a part of this international celebration.

Students, teachers, and chemistry enthusiasts from 15 countries around the world submitted 327 original portraits of Mendeleev, which were then used to create a larger mosaic portrait of Dmitri Mendeleev.

The mosaic and educational plaque have just been installed as part of the Timeline of Elements exhibit. The mosaic has also been transformed into an online poster that you can download for free and print for your classroom

Did you submit an image? Want to see your classmates' contributions? Visit our image gallery of all 327 images, organized by country, school, and then artist. You will be amazed at the many ways Dmitri Mendeleev has been illustrated!

Sponsors and contributors

We thank the following sponsors for their financial support of this project:

•    The University of Waterloo's Faculty of Science
•    The Department of Chemistry
•    Chem 13 News
•    The Chemical Institute of Canada Chemical Education Fund for sponsoring the production and delivery of two posters to
all high schools across Canada.
•    3M Canada for creating the Timeline of Elements mural in the Science Teaching Complex at the University of Waterloo.

In a final note, bringing 445 pieces of artwork into two meaningful and educational pieces has truly been a joint effort. It is thanks to the vision, talent, patience — and persistence — of each member of this team that we were able to make the Timeline of Elements and Mendeleev Mosaic a reality.

•    Jean Hein, former Editor, Chem 13 News
•    Heather Neufeld, Manager, University of Waterloo, Science Outreach
•    Corina McDonald, Museum Curator, University of Waterloo, Earth Sciences Museum
•    Victoria Van Cappellen, Web Administrator, Waterloo Department of Chemistry
•    Joy Roasa and Jaime Simons, our amazing Waterloo Co-op students

We would also like to thank Kathy Jackson, Chem 13 News Secretary, and Melissa Martinez, Communications Design Specialist, Waterloo Creative Services.


  1. All Canadian high schools will be receiving two copies of the poster in the mail, thanks to a grant from The Chemical Institute of Canada Chemical Education Fund. Watch for the envelope this month!