Celebrating humanity

TEXT: LIZ LONGDEN | PHOTOS © NOBEL PRIZE MUSEUM

The Nobel Prize was founded to recognise individuals whose achievements have conferred ‘the greatest benefit to humankind’. 119 years later, the Nobel Prize Museum plays an important role in helping to share the knowledge, principles and innovations that represent the best of human endeavour.

Situated in Stockholm’s picturesque Gamla Stan, the Nobel Prize Museum has become a popular tourist attraction, yet it is much more than just an interesting place to pass a few hours. As museum director Erika Lanner explains, the museum’s principal purpose is to educate and spread a message of inspiration: “We believe that research, science and humanism can change the world. And by explaining and sharing the achievements of our Laureates, we hope to show how we all can contribute and make a positive difference to the world we live in.”

One way in which the museum does this is through its exhibitions, with one current highlight a powerful and moving temporary exhibition celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King. Public talks are another important part of the museum’s activity, and April will see the premiere of a new performance lecture in collaboration with The Royal Dramatic Theatre, Dramaten, on the neuroscience of happiness. “There is a desire in our society for more depth of understanding about science and research, and we see that as something that we can help with,” says Lanner.

One naturally curious group on which the museum directs a particular focus is children, making it a great destination for families. Here, young visitors can learn about the prize’s history and highlights in the Bubble Chamber, explore on their own with the help of a specially tailored booklet, or take part in open workshops. Children are also the focus of much of the museum’s international outreach programme: through travelling exhibitions and talks, often with the participation of Nobel Laureates, it collaborates extensively with schools and teachers across the world.

It is partly in order to bring together all of its public outreach activities in a single space that the Nobel Prize Museum is hoping to move to new and larger premises in the near future. “The space in our current building is limited and we have had to decline many school groups, which is obviously very disappointing,” Lanner explains. “As we continue to expand our outreach activities, therefore, we’re hopeful of being able to find a new, better suited home in the heart of Stockholm.”

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