The Nobel Prize award ceremony in Stockholm, 10 December 2023.

© Nobel Prize Outreach. Photo: Nanaka Adachi.

The Nobel Prize

How it started

When the inventor, entrepreneur and businessman Alfred Nobel died, his will stated that his fortune was to be used to reward “those who, during the preceding year, shall have conferred the greatest benefit to humankind.” Nobel’s prize would reward outstanding efforts in the fields that he was most involved in during his lifetime: physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature and peace.

After his death, a long process began to realise his vision and the first Nobel Prizes were awarded in 1901. In 1969, a new prize was established – the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel. Its addition was an exception, to celebrate the tercentenary of Sweden’s central bank.

In October every year the new Nobel Prizes and laureates are announced.

Questions and answers

What do the Nobel Prize laureates receive?

According to the statutes of the Nobel Foundation, each laureate shall be presented with a gold medal. The front of the Nobel Prize medals depict Alfred Nobel. The image on the reverse varies according to the institution awarding the prize. Read more about the medals.
Tu Youyou showing her Nobel Medal

Tu Youyou showing her Nobel Prize medal, 11 December 2015.

© Nobel Media. Photo: Alexander Mahmoud.

Each Nobel Prize diploma is a unique work of art where the design is decided by the prize-awarding bodies. The literature diploma is written on parchment, i.e. specially treated leather, using largely the same technique as those of medieval book illustrators. The diplomas given to the other laureates are produced on specially ordered handmade paper.
Giorgio Parisi receiving his Nobel Prize medal and diploma in Rome, Italy

Giorgio Parisi showing his Nobel Prize diploma.

© Nobel Prize Outreach. Photo: Laura Sbarbori

The current amount is at SEK 11 million per full Nobel Prize. A Nobel Prize can be awarded to up to three laureates who share the prize sum. Find out more about the prize amounts throughout history.
Flower decorations at the 2016 Nobel Prize award ceremony

Flower decorations by Florist Helén Magnusson at the Nobel Prize award ceremony at the Stockholm Concert Hall, 10 December 2016.

© Nobel Media. Photo: Pi Frisk.

© Nobel Media. Photo: Alexander Mahmoud