Alfred Nobel’s last will and testament will be put on public display for the first time to coincide with the launch of the Legacy exhibition at the Nobel Museum on March 13, 2015. This brief document laid the foundation for what has become the world’s most prestigious scientific and cultural prize – the Nobel Prize. The greatest legacy Alfred Nobel left to posterity resulted from the a combination of his family affairs, poor health, state of mind, interests and values, and the spirit and ides of his age.
Nobel’s now famous contribution to future generations was specified in his will, dated November 27, 1895. In his will, he instructed that the majority of his fortune should go to establishing prizes in physics, chemistry, medicine, literature and peace.
The small sums left to relatives and others close to him reveal the course of Nobel’s private life. In the final lines of his will, Nobel’s concern about being buried alive becomes apparent when he writes: “Finally, it is my express wish that following my death my veins shall be opened, and when this has been done and competent Doctors have confirmed clear signs of death, my remains shall be cremated in a so-called crematorium.”
The will was written on standard paper using iron gall ink. It has been somewhat soiled by thumbprints and clear folds can be seen, which indicate that it was initially contained in an envelope. Even so, it is in relatively good condition said Karin Olsson, Paper Conservator at Sweden’s National Archives.