Distinguished Nobel Laureates featured at Houston museum

To recognize a hundred years of discovery and creativity, the Houston Museum of Natural Science will host Cultures of Creativity: The Centennial Exhibition of the Nobel Prize beginning February 7,2003. Houston is the exhibition’s first venue in the United States after an international tour that includes Stockholm, Oslo, Tokyo and Seoul.Since the first Nobel Prize was awarded in 1901, more than 700 people have been honored for their work in physics, chemistry, medicine, literature, economics and peacemaking that led to the knowledge explosion of the 21st century. Cultures of Creativity captures these achievements and expresses it in the context of creative experiences that have changed the world.

Videos and artifacts present the environments that foster creative scientific thinking and encourage the exchange of ideas. At the entrance of the exhibition, visitors enter the Nobel Market featuring the most recent Laureates, including a century of Nobel Prizes, summarizing their achievements over the last hundred years and ending a with a Nobel Awards Banquet setting. Visitors will be greeted by “Albert Einstein” and “Madame Curie” characters roaming throughout the exhibit during peak times. These characters will enhance the exhibit by providing an opportunity to answer questions and help bring the exhibit to life.

Two theaters occupy the center of the Gallery. The Milieus Theater describes cities, universities and laboratories that served as meeting places for Nobel Laureates and were characterized by their pluralism and diversity, concentration of expertise, communication and cross-disciplinary interaction and unconventional structure. The other theater features stories of individual creativity in a variety of environments. Accompanying these stories are artifacts that were instrumental in each Laureate’s life and work, such as economics prize-winner Amartya Sen’s bicycle; poet Nelly Sachs’ music box; novelist Selma Lagerlofs walking shoes; the 14” Dalai Lama’s pencil and physicist Marie Curie’s scientific instruments.

Cultures of Creativity would not exist if it were not for Alfred Nobel’s remarkable which underlies the entire Nobel system, along with the international perspective that distinguished his life and will. Why was he willing to endow an international prize with his entire fortune? The idea of giving away his fortune was no passing fancy for Nobel. Efforts to promote peace were close to his heart and he derived intellectual pleasure from literature, while science built the foundation for his own activities as a technological researcher and inventor.

Nobel — idealist, inventor, and entrepreneur — invented dynamite in 1866 and later built and expanded companies and laboratories in more than 20 countries all over the world. A holder of more than 350 patents, he also wrote poetry and drama and even seriously considered becoming a writer.

On November 27, 1895, Nobel signed his final will and testament at the Swedish-Norwegian Club in Paris. He died of a cerebral hemorrhage at his home in San Remo, Italy on December 10, 1896.

What is creativity and how can creative activity best be encouraged? Which is more important to the creative process: the individual or the environment in which their work is carried out? Cultures of Creativity captures a century of achievement and expresses it in the context of creative experiences that have changed the world.

Cultures of Creativity opens at the Houston Museum of Natural Science February 7 and runs through May 11,2003, at the Houston Museum of Natural Science.

The Houston Museum of Natural Science, a private non-profit organization, is home to the Burke Baker Planetarium, Cockrell Butterfly Center, the George Observatory, Wortham IMAX Theatre and three floors of natural science halls and exhibits.

Located in Hermann Park across from Miller Outdoor Theater, the Museum is open Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 6p.m. and Sunday, 11 am, to 6p.m. Cultures of Creativity: The Centennial Exhibition of the Nobel Prize is included in the regular Museum admission ticket, which is free to members, $6 for adults, $3.50 for children (3-11) and seniors (62±). For more information, call (713) 639-4629 or log on to www.hmns.org. For information in Spanish, call (713) 639-4603.