Obama – A Call to Action - Nobel Peace Center

Nobel Peace Center


  1. Photo: Pete Souza / The White House
  2. Callie Shell / Aurora Photos for Time

  3. Photo: Sara Johannessen / Nobel Peace Center
  4. Photo: Sara Johannessen / Nobel Peace Center
  5. Linn Cathrin Olsen / Nobel Peace Center

  6. Photo: Linn Cathrin Olsen / Nobel Peace Center
  7. Photo: Linn Cathrin Olsen / Nobel Peace Center
  8. Photo: Linn Cathrin Olsen / Nobel Peace Center

– A Call to Action

12 Dec 2009–03 Oct 2010

Barack H. Obama regarded the Nobel Peace Prize as “a call to action”. This also became the title of the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize laureate exhibition.

The exhibition was inspired by the connections between Alfred Nobel’s will and Obama’s visions and efforts to strenghten international diplomacy and multilateral cooperation, and a world free from nuclear weapons.

The exhibition consisted of two parts: In the Entry Hall visitors were met by a series of large photo portraits of President Barack H. Obama. The photos are by photographers Callie Shell and Pete Souza, who have followed Obama closely for several years.

The exhibition continued in the then newly reconstructed 150 square meter Gallery on the second level. Here, visitors were invited to join a journey of discovery through time and space, disarmament and diplomacy. The story of Nobel’s will and Obama’s work for fraternity between the nations was told through books and images, texts and films, and through caskets and interactive games, and the visitors could call Obama’s Blackberry from Alfred Nobel’s old phone. The exhibition also featured reactions to the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Obama.

When the Nobel Peace Prize 2009 was announced, the Norwegian Nobel Committee chairman stated that the Norwegian Nobel Committee for 108 years has sought to stimulate precisely that international policy and those attitudes for which Obama is now the world’s leading spokesman. Some hours later, Obama responded to the news with the words, “I will accept this award as a call to action”.

The Nobel Committee awarded the Nobel Peace Prize to Obama because of his “extraordinary contribution to strengthening international diplomacy and cooperation”. It also emphasised Obama’s vision of a nuclear weapons free world and that he, in his short career as President, has created a new climate for international politics.

The Nobel Peace Prize laureate exhibition is an annual tradition at the Nobel Peace Center, and this was the fifth consecutive exhibition. The photo selection has been made in collaboration with photographer Marcus Bleasdale from VII Photo Agency. Olav Njølstad was the exhibition copywriter and Christine Lohre was responsible for the exhibition design.

The exhibition was supported by the Telenor Group.

Overview of our former Nobel Peace Prize laureate exhibitions:

2008 Martti Ahtisaari – The Broker
During three decades, the former Finnish President has played a vital role in the peace and reconciliation work done in Namibia, Kosovo, Iraq, Northern Ireland and the Aceh Province in Indonesia. In 2008 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. In this exhibition, Magnum photographer Jonas Bendiksen and BBC journalist Lyse Doucet gave a unique glimpse into the work of Martti Ahtisaari.

2007 Al Gore and the IPCC – Fever
The exhibition, like the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize, was divided in two parts. The world renowned photographer Anton Corbijn created six portraits of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Al Gore, bringing out sides of Gore that are rarely seen: Playful and casual, surrounded by the nature he works to preserve. The exhibition also consisted of pictures and text from the article series ”A Globe in Crisis” that was featured in the Norwegian business newspaper Dagens Næringsliv. Photographer Ørjan F. Ellingvåg and journalist Frode Frøyland have covered the activity of the IPCC, The Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change.

2006 Muhammad Yunus and Grameen Bank – A fistful of dollars
The 2006 Nobel Peace Prize laureate exhibition was about Mohammad Yunus and Grameen Bank. Photographer Linda Næsfeldt’s pictures present a man and an institution that give poor people hope and a possibility to create a dignified life for themselves.

2005  – Make Power, Not War
Mohamed ElBaradei considered the nuclear threat of today to be greater than ever before. IAEA controls over 900 facilities for nuclear power in 71 countries in order to prevent dissemination of nuclear weapons. At the same time, IAEA promotes civilian use of nuclear power and related technology. The exhibit highlighted this controversial double role.