Cultures of Creativity


Cultures of Creativity is the Nobel Museum Centennial exhibition. Opening as a permanent exhibition at the Nobel Museum in Stockholm in 2001, a travelling version was also shown simultaneously. Cultures of Creativity toured for six years across the world until closing in 2007. The permanent version of the exhibition is still on display at the Nobel Museum in Stockholm.

"What is creativity and how can creative activity best be encouraged?" "Which is more important to the creative process: the individual or the environment?". The Centennial Exhibition examines these questions by presenting selected Laureates and milieus from the 100-year history of the Nobel Prize. The Exhibition does not provide specific answers, but gives visitors the chance to think about these questions for themselves.

Nobel plaza
The Nobel Museum as seen from the entrance
Photo: Karin Jonsson ©Nobelmuseet 2012

Individuals and Milieus

Courage to think on entirely new lines, daring to question established theories, innovative combinations of insights from the different fields – these are some of the characteristics of creativity.

These characteristics may be illustrated by physicist Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen's research, the work of Peace Prize Laureate Martin Luther King, and the literary works of Selma Lagerlöf – all presented at the Exhibition.

In creative environments there are often informal meeting places for spontaneous, unplanned discussions. These were the Paris cafés of the 1920s, where Nobel Laureates such as Hemingway and Beckett worked, and today the cafeterias in CERN or in Cambridge, with all its colleges.

There are presentations of more than thirty Laureates and their creative work, as well as a number of milieus that inspired creativity, in the film room and artifact theater. The Exhibition also gives an account of the Nobel Prizes of the 20th Century. Well-known Nobel Prizes are discussed against a background of historic events. Nobel Prizes that were controversial at the time are also discussed, such as the Peace Prize awarded to German journalist Carl von Ossietzky in 1935.

How is a Nobel Laureate chosen?

The Nobel Prize Ceremony in the Concert Hall and the banquet at the City Hall (with the famous Nobel ice cream on the menu) are only the tip of the iceberg of the Nobel system. The Centennial Exhibition describes this unique system, which handles nominations from all over the world and a great number of expert opinions – work that has been carried out continuously by the various Nobel committees during the past 100 years.

Alfred Nobel

Alfred Nobel's unique will is behind the entire Nobel system. Who was he and why did he want to donate his entire fortune to an international award? The Exhibition presents Alfred Nobel the idealist, inventor, entrepreneur, and cosmopolitan, along with the international perspective that distinguished his life and will.


The Nobel Museum hosts both permanent and temporary exhibitions, on the Nobel Prize, the Nobel Laureates, Alfred Nobel and related topics.


Oslo, Norwegian Folk Museum
9 August 2001–17 December 2001

Tokyo, National Science Museum
18 March 2002–9 June 2002

Seoul, The Rodin Gallery
23 August 2002–3 November 2002

Houston, Houston Museum of Natural Science
7 February 2003–11 May 2003

Chicago, Chicago Museum of Science and Industry
27 September 2003–10 December 2003

Kuala Lumpur, National Science Center
20 March 2004–27 June 2004

Florence, Palazzo Strozzi
15 September 2005–2 January 2005

New York, New York Hall of Science
13 March 2005–21 May 2005

San Fransisco, Exploratorium
14 July 2005–2 October 2005

London, British Library
2 December 2005–15 March 2006

Bangalore, Visvesvaraya Industrial and Technological Museum
27 May 2006–31 August 2006

Singapore, National University of Singapore
26 October 2006–24 January 2007

Sydney, University of Technology
16 April 2007–15 July 2007

Abu Dhabi, The Emirates Palace
23 October 2007–15 December 2007

Exhibition Catalogue

Originally published in conjunction with the Centennial Exhibition of the Nobel Prize in 2001, this newly revised and enlarged English edition seeks to explore various threads of the web of creativity through an examination of the achievements of Nobel Laureated from diverse fields and the milieux from which they drew inspiration.

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Executive Editor: Olov Amelin

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