Exhibition on Nansen’s legacy opened in Oslo on World Refugee Day

Five Nansen Refugee Award laureates are included in the exhibition.

The exhibition provides an insight into Nansen’s legacy and UNHCR’s Nansen Refugee Award, honouring individuals or organizations that make extraordinary efforts to help forcibly displaced or stateless persons. © Mette Bruaas/Nobel Peace Center

On World Refugee Day, an exhibition marking the 100-year anniversary of Norway’s Fridtjof Nansen being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize opened at the Nobel Peace Center in Oslo. The exhibition was opened by His Royal Highness Crown Prince Haakon of Norway. 

Fridtjof Nansen, the first High Commissioner for Refugees, was a pioneer in helping displaced people. The exhibition provides insight on how his efforts helped hundreds of thousands of refugees to return home and many others to become legal residents in the countries where they had found refuge. When the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Nansen in 1922, it was for his leading role in the repatriation of prisoners of war, in international relief work and as the League of Nations’ High Commissioner for refugees. 

Nansen saw that one of the biggest problems facing refugees was the lack of internationally recognized identification papers. He established the first legal instrument to bestow international protection to refugees. This document came to be known as the ‘Nansen passport’.  His work and achievements continue to inspire humanitarians today. 

“Fridtjof Nansen helped millions of people reach safety and restart their lives,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi in a written statement on the day of the opening of the exhibition. “We honour his legacy every year when we present the UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award to an individual or organization taking extraordinary steps to protect displaced and stateless people. Some of the laureates are rightfully showcased in this exhibition, opening on the day we celebrate the strength and courage of refugees all over the world.” 

Through the laureates, the Nansen Refugee Award seeks to reflect Nansen’s commitment and tenacity, including when faced with adversity. In the spirit of Nansen, the laureates have done humanitarian work that goes beyond the expected, often under very challenging circumstances.   

The UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award is generously sponsored by the governments of Norway and Switzerland. 

UNHCR’s Representation for the Nordic and Baltic countries took part in the opening and spoke on the legacy of Fridtjof Nansen in UNHCR today. The Norwegian Refugee Council provided an overview of the situation for the forcibly displaced persons in the world, included the most forgotten crises.  

Centrally located in Oslo city, the Nobel Peace Center is among Oslo’s most popular museums. Through the ideas and work of the Nobel Peace Prize laureates, the center wishes to inspire a better, more peaceful, world. The exhibition on Nansen lasts until the end of 2022. More information about the exhibition and how to visit it can be found at the Nobel Peace Center’s website here. 

Learn more about the Nansen Refugee Award here.