The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings: Now and Then

"The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings: Now and Then" was part of the permanent exhibition of Lindau's city museum. Due to major renovations of the building that harbours the museum, the permanent exhibition on the top floor is currently closed. Here, the development that the meetings have taken during the last 65 years was presented in four different rooms.


Room 1: The History and Idea of the Meetings

Nobel Laureates in Lindau – Why?

Good question! In fact, since 1951 almost five hundred laureates have participated – many of them regularly – in the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings to meet and discuss research with young scientists.

This room revealed how this came about.

The Spirit of Lindau

In 2011, Nature Publishing Group portrayed the Lindau Meetings in a 15-minute documentary. The film was shown in the exhibition and can also be viewed below.


The Spirit of Lindau is the passion for science that inspires and connects transnationally and cross-generationally.



The Lindau doctors Dr Franz Karl Hein and Prof Gustav Wilhelm Parade develop the idea to invite Nobel Laureates to Lindau. They are able to win over Count Lennart Bernadotte as “honorary patron”.

The first “European Meeting of Nobel Laureates” takes place 10-14 June 1951 in Lindau. The Swedish King Gustaf VI Adolf sends his greetings. 

For the first time, students – predominantly from Germany but also from other European neighbour states – participate in the meeting. 

1954 is the first time a Nobel Peace Laureate attends the meeting – namely, Albert Schweitzer. The following year, based on his suggestion, laureates primarily with a background in nuclear research get together and adopt the Mainau Manifest, in which they publicly denounce the development and use of atomic weapons. 

Although students from the GDR (former East Germany) regularly took part in the meetings, the construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961 prevents further participation.

Beginning in the late 1960s, the topic of environmental protection gains increasing significance and Count Lennart Bernadotte makes sustainability the central theme of the 1971 meeting. Two years later, the Nobel Peace Laureate and German Chancellor Willy Brandt holds a pivotal lecture in Lindau titled “Environmental Protection as an International Task”. Since then, this theme has been a part of the Lindau Meetings. 

Since 1959, the meetings have become increasingly international, going beyond Europe. The German Academic Exchange Service begins in 1971 to support the meetings and strengthens the international profile further. Since 1980, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation has cooperated with the meetings.

As a result of visits by the secretary of the Nobel Committee for Physics, Prof Bengt Nagel (1982), and the executive director of the Nobel Foundation, Baron Stig Ramel (1983), the ties to Stockholm improve distinctly. Today, these ties are based on trust and friendship, which is reflected in cooperative projects.

Not just the 50th anniversary of the meetings and the first interdisciplinary meeting but also the landmark founding of the Foundation Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings by 50 Nobel Laureates takes place in 2000.

Under the chairmanship of Prof Wolfgang Schürer, the foundation influences and develops the meetings in many ways, in particular, by securing the financial basis through a systematic development of international relationships and the continued development of projects with an impact beyond one week a year.

The expansion of the permanent, year-round executive office makes a systematic advancement of the meetings possible, for example, the online services.

According to the current timetable, the meeting venue Inselhalle will be completely renovated 2015-2017. It will offer a contemporary venue for meetings and events in Lindau and will host the 68th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting (Physiology/Medicine). 

Whose idea was it?

The idea to organise scientific meetings in Lindau was initiated by Prof Gustav Wilhelm Parade, but the deciding, definitive idea to invite Nobel Laureates both from Germany and abroad came from Dr Franz Karl Hein, a practicing gynaecologist and active town council member in Lindau.

For further support, especially in regard to the Nobel Foundation in Stockholm, the two doctors asked Count Lennart Bernadotte from Mainau Island for help. Count Lennart, grandson to the Swedish King Gustaf V, supported the meetings with ideas and his connections and significantly influenced the meetings in the following decades as the President of the Council. Later on, his wife, Sonja, took over this position, and since 2008, their daughter, Countess Bettina, has been the president.

The first years were anything but simple in regard to the organisation and financing, but success proved that the three founders were right: ever since young scientists were invited to participate in 1953, the meetings had found their unique recipe for success.

Franz Karl Hein's Desk
Franz Karl Hein's Desk


Room 2: The Laureates

The second room showed a selection of photos from the "Nobel Laureates in Portrait" series by Peter Badge.

Nobel Laureates in Portrait
Nobel Laureates in Portrait


Nobel Laureates in Portrait

Peter Badge was born in Hamburg, Germany, in 1974 and began his career after studying art history as a freelance artist/photographer in 1993.

Choosing portraiture as his primary focus, Badge concentrates on noted personalities, including artists and actors, musicians and photographers such as the electronic music pioneer Oskar Sala or the popular German musician Marius Müller-Westernhagen.

Badge embarked on a series of photographs of Nobel Laureates in 2000, commissioned by a group of renowned organisations including the Deutsches Museum in Bonn and the Smithsonian Institution, the National Museum of American History and the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., as well as his partners, the Council for the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings and the Foundation Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings.

This project turned out to be a long-term, ongoing mission, which has taken him all over the world in order to capture images of every living Nobel Laureate – almost 400 so far.


About 20 memorabilia donated by Nobel Laureates are presented in this room as well, each telling a story about the object, the laureate, and how it came to Lindau. Original documents from the early years of meeting planning complete the historical account.

Room 3: Outreach Projects

In addition to the annual meetings in Lindau, the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings are involved in a variety of projects and activities involving science, education and art.


The portraits by the photographer Peter Badge shift the focus to the personalities of the Nobel Laureates and let us get to know them better.

The series “Sketches of Science” by science photo­grapher Volker Steger is dedicated not only to the laureates but also their discoveries: the laureates were asked to put down their “inventions” on paper with crayons. The exhibition is a cooperative project of the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings and the Nobel Museum in Stockholm.

Selected images from the exhibition series "Sketches of Science": Martin Chalfie, Françoise Barré-Sinoussi, Sir Harold Kroto
Selected images from the exhibition series "Sketches of Science": Martin Chalfie, Françoise Barré-Sinoussi, Sir Harold Kroto


A Treasure Trove: The Lindau Mediatheque

The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings are also extensively represented online. In addition to the website, the main feature is the mediatheque, which contains numerous multimedia files, including photos, videos, texts and interactive formats from more than 65 years of meetings. The core collection is made up of more than 450 lectures by Nobel Laureates in Lindau, partially as original recording, and partially in videos.

These unique original files are complemented with high quality videos and texts, which are easily accessible for non-scientists and especially for pupils and students.

The interactive Nobel Labs 360° allow you to take a look right into the laboratories of the laureates and make science more tangible!

Nobel Labs 360° on a touch dispay
Nobel Labs 360° on a touch dispay

 The Nobel Labs 360° can of course also be explored directly within the mediatheque - just click on "Nobel Labs 360°" in the main menu.


Thanks & Realisation

The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings only exist thanks to the diverse backing of our numerous supporters and partners. The same holds true for this exhibition. The supporters deserve our thanks for their contributions which made this exhibition possible.

Principal Supporter
Klaus Tschira Stiftung

Zumtobel AG, City of Lindau & Cultural Office Lindau

Scientific Consultants
Prof Bernhard Graf
Prof Anders Bárány

Concept, Texts & Implementation
Wolfgang Huang
Christian Schumacher, Barbara Reil,
Gero von der Stein, Patricia Edema

Nikolaus Turner, Alexander Warmbrunn
Special thanks go to Beate Hein-Bennett and Piet Hein for generously making the archives of “Franz Karl Hein” available as well as all Nobel Laureates and their families for supplying exhibits.


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