After my fairly terrible experience with the Nobel Museum in Stockholm, the Nobel Peace Center in Oslo wasn’t exactly high on my list. But it was right by the port where we kept walking in the evenings to get soft eis (also where they’re building a new museum complex, as you can probably see from the construction all around), it was open until 6, and we got in for free with our Oslo Pass (120 kr otherwise), so I just went with it.
As far as I can tell, the Peace Center seems to be home to a number of temporary exhibitions. The one in the ground floor at the time of our visit was “Klimalab,” which runs until January 2020, and is all about climate change. As you can probably see, it looked quite engaging and interactive, at least compared to the things at the Nobel Museum, and my hopes were high.
Even though some of the activities were definitely more orientated towards children (as was the content of the exhibit as a whole), I did enjoy walking through the giant bower bird nest pretending to be a bower bird (I do like blue things. Woo me with all the blue things. Also waffles), tasting the microgreens (spicy), and taking a pledge from the wall to reduce my food waste (there were also pledges to reduce emissions, among other things, but I probably already blew that by flying to Norway (also probably TMI, but my personal emissions are pretty high. I’m a gassy lady. I can’t help it.)). I can’t say it offered me any new insight into climate change, but it was fun.
The exhibition upstairs was much more serious in nature, and was called “The Body as a Battlefield”. It runs until November and is based on the work of Nobel Peace Laureates Dr. Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad, who both work to combat sexual violence (Murad is herself a survivor of sexual violence, after being kidnapped by ISIS). Even though you were allowed to take pictures here, I didn’t feel it was quite appropriate, for obvious reasons. This was a very difficult exhibition to look at, but certainly an important one, though I’m sure it would be triggering for some people. In addition to talking about the work of Mukwege (who is a Congolese surgeon who reconstructs the bodies of women who have suffered horrific sexual abuse) and Murad, it also had stories from people who have been subjected to all kinds of sexual atrocities, which is why it was such hard reading at times. It was definitely worth seeing, horrible as it is to think that this sort of thing still happens every day all over the world.
After that intense exhibition, we somewhat gratefully headed into the permanent gallery featuring every Nobel Peace Prize winner since the prize was first awarded in 1901. The camera doesn’t quite capture it, but it was a very cool looking room, with loads of small lights and a tablet for each winner that you could scroll through to learn more about them. There were plenty of people I’d never heard of, but also famous names, like a few US presidents (though thankfully, still no Trump).
The final gallery contained a cute video explaining how the Nobel Peace Prize works. I’d never understood why the Peace Prize is awarded in Oslo, but all the others are in Stockholm. Apparently this is simply because Alfred Nobel specified this in his will. All the other prizes are awarded by Swedish institutions, but Nobel specifically wanted the Peace Prize to be awarded by the Norwegian national assembly – no one really knows why, as Norway and Sweden shared a government at the time of his death, but it may have been because Norway had a reputation as a more peaceful country, and an arbiter of disputes. Also, the medal itself was designed by Gustav Vigeland, who you may remember from the Vigeland Sculpture Park, so it may well be the coolest looking medal of the Nobel Prizes (if the baby fighter sculpture is anything to go by). Apparently there is also going to be an interactive storybook about Nobel in the museum at some point, but it wasn’t working yet at the time of our visit.
Whilst this wasn’t amazing or anything, and I definitely would have been annoyed if I’d paid 120 kr to get in, it was undoubtedly better than the one in Stockholm. At least the exhibitions were about important issues, and there were interactive parts that held my interest better than anything in Stockholm’s equivalent. It also helped that it was about 100x less crowded, probably because you had to pay to get in (you normally have to pay for the one in Stockholm too, but we went on an evening when it was free). And the shop had a lot of fair tradey stuff in it, if that’s your bag (and Nobel-themed t-shirts too, though my interest in those is limited). Not worth 120 kr, but if you’ve got an Oslo Pass anyway, it’s worth dropping in to see some of the temporary exhibitions, particularly the one on sexual violence. 2.5/5.