The Norwegian Nobel Institute

by Øyvind Tønnesson Peace Editor, 1998-2000
1 December 1999

old NNI building

Norwegian Nobel Institute building

The Norwegian Nobel Institute building in Oslo, bought by the Nobel Foundation in 1903. The building (inset) as it looks today.
Copyright © The Norwegian Nobel Institute

The Norwegian Nobel Institute was established in 1904, and moved into its present building in central Oslo, close to the royal palace, in 1905. The building, which was built in 1867, is a classic mansion house. It was bought in 1903 from consul Christian Christophersen, a prominent figure in the booming business life of Kristiania (the name of the Norwegian capital until 1924) in the 1890s. A private house consisting of two separate apartments, it had to be totally renovated inside before the Institute could start using it. By Norwegian standards in 1905, the Nobel Institute was both fashionable and expensive; at that time some people criticized the Nobel Foundation for spending too much money on a building. However, the same criticism could hardly be maintained 50, 60, or even 70 years later. Little was done to keep up appearances before 1985, when the Nobel Foundation initiated a second renovation of the whole building.

The principal duty of the Nobel Institute is to assist the Nobel Committee in the task of selecting the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize and to organize the annual Nobel events in Oslo. In order to serve as a center of knowledge related to peace and international affairs in general, the Institute has built up what is today a 175,000-volume library. The literature which is available at the Nobel Institute Library is chiefly devoted to work for peace, international relations, law, and economics, and modern political history.

The library is open to the public and has a nice reading room. Today, the Nobel Institute also has its own research department which organizes research projects related to issues of war and peace. The department is based on a fellowship program for visiting scholars from all over the world. The Nobel Institute arranges meetings, seminars and lectures in addition to holding so-called Nobel Symposia, exchanges of views and information to which it invites distinguished specialists from many countries.

Norwegian Nobel Institute library
The Norwegian Nobel Institute library.
Photo by Øyvind Tønnesson

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