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​New exhibition: 1965 UNICEF

Press Release   •   Sep 29, 2015 15:03 CEST

In 1965, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded for efforts in the field of children’s rights for the first time. Fifty years later, the Nobel Peace Center opens an exhibition telling the story about how and why UNICEF was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

“UNICEF’s work for peace takes the form of action, rather than words. It is fundamental, extensive and has a positive impact. In my opinion, therefore, it must be valued higher than most of the other proposals I have had to deal with.”

This is how Professor Torkel Opsahl said it in his report on UNICEF for the Nobel Committee prior to the award in 1965. Together with all the other documents linked to the Peace Prize for 1965, this report has been sealed in the Nobel Committee’s archives for fifty years, according to the rules. In the exhibition 1965 UNICEF we can, for the first time, tell the story about who nominated the organisation, who the other candidates were, and why UNICEF was chosen.

"In 1965, the Nobel Committee acknowledged for the very first time, efforts in the field of children’s rights as peacemaking. Another fifty years passed by until children again were the main focus for the Nobel Peace Prize. We are happy that we can show the exhibition about UNICEF as the same time as our exhibition about two laureates as popular as Malala and Kailash", says Executive Director Bente Erichsen.
"During the next two months much of the museum is dedicated to the celebration of the importance of children’s rights for peace and prosperity."

UNICEF was established by the UN in 1946 to help the children after World War 2. In 1953, the organization became a permanent part of the UN, with the mandate to help children all over the world. The Nobel Committee described the establishment of UNICEF as a breakthrough for the idea of solidarity between nations, because the organization worked to decrease the difference between rich and poor states. This also diminished the risk of war.

UNICEF was nominated in 1950, 1963, 1964 and in 1965, when they were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

One of the nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1965 came from a group of parliamentarians from Yugoslavia, who highlighted the important work UNICEF did for the country’s children after World War II. Fifty years later UNICEF is again active in this part of the world. This September, they opened so called «Child Friendly Spaces» in Serbia and Macedonia to give comfort to refugee children.

"Again we find ourselves in Europe helping children in need affected by the atrocities of war. UNICEF focused on children in Africa, South America and Asia in the years after we were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. But due to the huge influx of refugees from Syria, again UNICEF has program activities on European soil. Even though the world today is a better place for children compared to 1965, working for children’s rights and protection from conflicts and violence are just as important today as it was 50 years ago", says Executive Director in UNICEF Norway Bernt G. Apeland.


1965 UNICEF opens on 6 October at 15.00 at the Nobel Peace Center in Oslo. 

The exhibition is made in cooperation with historian Carl Emil Vogt, who has been studying the documents from the Nobel Committee’s archive, and the National Library. 

The design is by Bold Design and Runa Klock in cooperation with the Nobel Peace Center. The exhibition is displayed in our smallest exhibition room on the first floor, and is the fourth exhibition at the Nobel Peace Center highlighting chosen laureates of the past.

Former exhibitions in this series are:

1971 Willy Brandt
2010 Liu Xiaobo
1964 Martin Luther King Jr.

Facts about the Nobel Peace Center

  • one of Norway's most visited museums with 227,000 visitors in 2014
  • presents the Nobel Peace Prize laureates and their work, in addition to telling the story of Alfred Nobel
  • it is an arena for debate and reflection around topics such as war, peace and conflict resolution
  • works where politics and culture intersect, and the Center is internationally recognized for its emphasis on documentary photography and interactive technology
  • changing exhibitions, engaging digital solutions, films, seminars and events make for a varied and exciting experience
  • it is an independent foundation, with the Norwegian Nobel Committee appointing the board
  • Olav Njølstad is the leader of the board, Bente Erichsen is the Executive Director
  • it is financed by a combination of public and private funds
  • the main sponsors and collaborating partners are Hydro, Telenor Group and ABB