The institute was established in 1904 in Kristiania (today Oslo). The principal duty of the Nobel Institute is to assist the Norwegian Nobel Committee in the task of selecting the recipient(s) of the annual Nobel Peace Prize and to organize the Nobel award event in Oslo.
The institute's library, with some 204,000 titles, related to peace, conflict, and international relations, is the largest of its kind in Norway. The institute also has its own research department, organizing research related to peace and war. The institute awards a few annual visiting fellowships to distinguished international scholars. The institute arranges meetings, seminars and lectures in addition to holding the so-called Nobel Symposia, exchanges of views and information to which it invites specialists from many countries.