Planning and throwing a party for 1,250 guests that is followed by all of Sweden through an hours-long television broadcast demands creativity, respect for traditions and a particular attention to detail. The people who work on the Nobel Prize banquet challenge themselves and give their all in order to honour the year’s laureates with a truly unique night.

In the exhibition, you can follow the chefs’ creative process as they transform Swedish ingredients into a delicious and beautiful menu. You’ll see dresses that left a lasting impression and carried strong messages about different topics, such as the climate change. Listen to the trumpet fanfares and the acceptance speeches given by laureates at the event. These speeches make it clear how important the banquet is for those that are being honoured for their contributions to science, literature and peace. A cavalcade of pictures and videos also offers a glimpse of how the look of the Nobel Prize banquet has changed over the years.

“Today one of these fairy tales came true; I am dining with the King and the Princesses in a golden hall, surrounded by the gracious ladies and gentlemen of their court.” Wassily Leontief, Economic Sciences Laureate in 1973

The exhibition will also give you a glimpse behind the scenes. What goes through the mind of the florist in charge of decorating the Blue Hall with 25,000 flowers and stems, how do you set tables for 1,250 guests, and what does the special stick look like that is used to measure the distance between the plates when setting those tables? The first banquet was held in 1901 when the Nobel Prize was awarded for the first time. Although the guests and the venue have varied, many ritual elements live on to create the festivities and the distinctive magic that permeates the evening today. There is also a selection of photographs by the renowned photographer Anders Petersen taken at the banquet on display.

Since the 1960s, the Nobel Prize banquet has been broadcast live on television, making it a party for everyone, and today it is regarded by ethnologists as a contemporary folk tradition. Many people have taken the banquet to heart and celebrate the Nobel Day in formal attire, whether watching the festivities on television at home, at school or over lunch in an assisted living facility.

Behind the scenes at the Nobel Prize banquet

During Kulturnatt Stockholm we took a peek behind the scenes of the new exhibition. Here you will meet designer Bea Szenfeld and Emily Duff, student from Beckmans College of Design, presenting fashion with strong messages. Director of Exhibitions Clara Åhlvik and Nobel Prize expert Gustav Källstrand then takes us behind the scenes of this unique event: the traditions, the food, the guests and the magic.

Curator: Clara Åhlvik, Head of Exhibitions, Nobel Prize Museum
Set Designer: Sahara Widoff
Exhibition Designer: Birger Lipinksi
Lighting Designer: Tobias Rylander
Exhibition period: August 2021 – January 2023