Located in Stockholm, Sweden, the Nobel Museum honors the life and accomplishments of Alfred Nobel, as well as the history and recipients of the Nobel Prize from 1901 through the present day. Famed Swedish industrialist and inventor Alfred Nobel was born in 1833 to engineer Immanuel Nobel, noted for his bridge and building construction throughout the Stockholm area, and Andriette Ahlsell, a wealthy Swedish socialite.
Following his family’s move to St. Petersburg, Russia in 1842, Nobel was given an international-class education and was fluent in five languages by the age of 17. During travels as a young man to France, Germany, and the United States to receive training in chemical engineering to aid his father’s business, Nobel studied with Italian chemist Ascanio Sobrero, who had recently invented the explosive compound nitroglycerine. Nobel’s work with nitroglycerine led him to patent a solid form of nitroglycerine called dynamite in 1867. Throughout his career as a prominent inventor and businessman, Nobel patented 355 other inventions, including synthetic rubber, synthetic leather, and artificial silk, and established 87 companies throughout the world.
In his will, Nobel wished to use his career fortune to establish a prize fund to reward other inventors, scientists, artists, and philanthropists who had devoted their careers to improving the lives of humans throughout the world. The first Nobel Prizes were awarded five years after his 1896 death, bestowed upon exemplary citizens working in the fields of chemistry, physics, medicine, literature, and peace negotiation and proliferation. A sixth prize field, honoring exemplary contributions to the field of economic sciences, was added in 1969. Throughout the 20th and 21st centuries, the Nobel Prize has become one of the highest distinctions awarded in its fields, earning status as a major cultural and business accomplishment and conferring lifetime worldwide notability on its recipients. In 2001, as part of the prize’s 100th anniversary celebration, the Nobel Museum was opened in Stockholm to honor Nobel’s life and accomplishments and the past and future recipients of the prize. In 2011, the city of Stockholm and the Nobel Foundation began work on the development of a new Nobel Center located on Stockholm’s Blasieholmen peninsula, which is expected to be completed by 2020.
Permanent Exhibits and Collections
Today, the Nobel Museum is operated out of Stockholm’s former Stock Exchange Building in Stortorget Square, within the city’s Gamla stan old town central area. The museum shares its building with the Swedish Academy, the academic institution responsible for overseeing the selection of annual Nobel Prize recipients, and its public Nobel Library facility. As a public museum facility, the museum receives funding from the City of Stockholm, as well as the country’s Ministry of Culture and Ministry of Education and Research. The museum also presents public programming through an educational partnership with the Education First organization.
A variety of permanent and temporary exhibits are showcased at the museum, including the Cultures of Creativity exhibit, which honors past recipients of the award from its 1901 inception through the present day. Annual Nobel Laureates are selected by the Swedish Academy and announced at the beginning of October, with prizes awarded by the Swedish King at a ceremony in December. All recipients receive a Nobel diploma, a medal, and a cash prize of 10 million Swedish crowns, and all prizes are awarded in Stockholm, with the exception of the Nobel Peace Prize, which is presented in Oslo, Norway.
A number of permanent exhibits focus on the life and accomplishments of Alfred Nobel and the cultural legacy of the prize, including The Nobel Prize: Ideas Changing the World, an exhibit which elaborates on the ways that prize winners’ accomplishments have changed our everyday lives and world. Connecting Elements examines Nobel’s scientific work to explore the ways that humans interact with chemistry and the ways that science shapes society. Selected past winners of the Literature Prize are also examined in an artistic exhibit by Spanish photographer Kim Manresa, entitled Literary Rebellion.
The museum’s Research Library, which opened to the public in 2005, serves as a resource for students and researchers, offering a collection of more than 6,000 volumes related to the history of the prize and its recipients. A museum café, Bistro Nobel, is modeled after Vienna’s Café Museum and offers light fare and daily specials. A museum gift shop also sells a variety of items connected to museum exhibits and prize history, including custom-made chocolate medals also presented at the annual Nobel Banquet ceremony.
Ongoing Programs and Education
In addition to standard general admission, daily guided tours of the museum are presented for individuals and small groups, offering closer examination of museum exhibits. Curriculum-incorporated field trip opportunities are also offered for primary and secondary school students. A variety of family and student workshop programming is offered by the museum, including a paper-making workshop and a bubble chamber exhibit for young visitors. Half-term holiday programming is offered on school holidays for children ages 6-11, while a variety of outreach programming brings museum learning into the community, including a Nobel Education Network program and professional development opportunities for educators. Museum exhibits are also available for touring and rental to museum and community event venues around the world.
Stortorget 2, 103 16 Stockholm, Sweden, Phone: +46-8-53-48-18-00