The Nobel Peace Center in Oslo is a fascinating museum that tells the story of one of the world's most famous awards. Here's what you need to know about visiting when it reopens in December 2023.
We're on the verge of discovering the winners of the latest Nobel Peace Prize. Although the other Nobel Prizes are awarded in Sweden, the Nobel Peace Prize is hosted by the Norwegian capital, Oslo.
As such, the city is home to a museum dedicated to the award and its winners. It's one of the more specific museums in Oslo and a good choice for those of you looking for something a little different. Currently undergoing renovations, the museum is set to reopen in December 2023.
The museum's aim is to use the power of the Nobel Peace Prize laureates’ ideas, work and causes “to engage and inspire small and large actions which make the world a more peaceful place.”
In this article, I'll cover the man himself, and my story from my first visit to the center way back in 2011. Then, I'll bring things bang up to date with some advice for visiting the museum once it reopens. But first of all, let's step back in time…
Introducing Alfred Nobel
Alfred Nobel, an inventor and businessman, was confident in his work but personally modest and often described as a loner. He was passionate about literature and amassed a large book collection.
This love inspired him to establish a literature prize for works “of an idealistic tendency”. Nobel also valued cultural and peace-related endeavors, which influenced the other prizes he founded.
In 1895, Nobel signed his will, revealing that he was bequeathing his vast fortune to establish the Nobel Prizes for achievements in physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature, and peace efforts.
Each prize would be awarded based on merit, without considering nationality. The exact reason Nobel wanted the Peace Prize awarded by Norway remains a mystery.
Celebrating 2011's winners
This weekend I've had the pleasure of Andy's company here in Oslo. On Friday we wandered past the City Hall and the Nobel Peace Center.
That reminded me I'd seen the announcement of the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize winners on the news earlier in the day.
Anyway we decided to visit the Peace Center on Saturday when we had more time. Good decision! It turned out to be a celebratory day for the 2011 announcement.
First things first, that meant free entry, saving us both 80 kroner, hurrah! But also we got to sit in on a talk from Thorbjørn Jagland (the leader of the Norwegian Nobel Committee) about the 2011 laureates, which was being filmed and streamed online.
On stage there were three framed pictures, which turned out to be the diplomas designed specifically for each of the 2011 winners – Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkul Karman.
The diplomas were handed over at the ceremony in Oslo City Hall that took place in December.
Exploring the museum
Upstairs were a series of interactive exhibits, shedding more light on the Prize and its winners.
The impressive Peace Field is the highlight of the museum I would say. It's a room of fibre-optic light with LCD screens, each one profiling a previous Nobel Peace laureate. The screens and sound respond to your movement through the space.
There was also an eye-opening photographic exhibition about an asylum seeker in Norway called Rahman who now lives here illegally after being turned down twice. A nice touch was the message wall for visitors to write their notes of support to Rahman.
Peace Builders is a learning experience in the popular video game Minecraft. Students can play and learn about four Peace Prize Laureates, and how they have worked for a more peaceful and just world. There are also lesson plans and teaching resources.
Visiting the Nobel Peace Center in 2023
The Nobel Peace Center is easy to find in Oslo. Its located in the striking 19th-century former railway station building directly in front of the new national museum, between Aker Brygge and the City Hall.
You can take the tram to Aker Brygge, or walk down from Nationaltheatret train and T-Bane station.
Admission to the museum costs NOK 140 for an adult, with discounts available for seniors and children. Admission is free for children under 12. It's a good idea to book a ticket online in advance.
Note that the center has been closed throughout 2023 for essential renovations, but is set to reopen in December 2023. Check the website for details.
Nobel Peace Walks in Oslo
The center is also the starting point for ‘peace walks', a popular walking tour of Oslo that takes visitors through Nobel history. Held several times a week, the tours are available in Norwegian or English.
Starting in front of the museum and ends at the Norwegian Nobel Institute. On the route, you'll discover Oslo City Hall, the Parliament, Grand Hotel, and The University of Oslo's ceremonial hall.
Have you been to Oslo's Nobel Peace Center? Let us know what you thought of the museum in the comments below.