In 1958, His Royal Highness Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands founded the Praemium Erasmianum, a cultural institution active in the fields of humanities, social sciences and the arts. The Foundation awards the Erasmus Prize and organises cultural activities surrounding the annual award ceremony. The Board of the Foundation consists of members of the Dutch cultural, scholarly and business communities. His Majesty the King is Patron of the Foundation.
Aim and aspirations
The aim of the organisation is to strengthen the position of the humanities, the social sciences and the arts. In its attempt to achieve this aim, the Foundation is motivated by the cultural traditions of Europe and the ideas of Erasmus. Emphasising the importance of tolerance, cultural multiformity and undogmatic critical thinking, the Foundation endeavours to express these values in the choice of the Erasmus laureates and the organisation of cultural and academic events.
The annual Erasmus Prize is intended for persons or institutions that have made an exceptional contribution to culture in Europe. The Prize is awarded for acknowledged achievements and is not intended as a stimulant to young talent.
The cash amount of the Prize is fixed at 150,000 Euro. The Prize is presented by the Patron of the Foundation during a ceremony that usually takes place in the Royal Palace in Amsterdam.
The Board of the Foundation determines well in advance the area in which an Erasmus Prize will be awarded in the future. Subsequently, an advisory committee is formed which proposes a laureate after consulting with Dutch and foreign experts. The Board is responsible for the choice of the laureate and makes the decision; however, the opportunity for a third party to nominate a candidate is not excluded. The laureate is free to spend the prize money according to his or her own judgement, but an indication of how the prize money will be spent is appreciated.
In conjunction with the presentation of the Erasmus Prize, the Foundation organises a wide range of activities that are relevant to the sector of the Prize of that year. These events are initiated and organised in co-operation with other cultural institutions in the Netherlands and abroad, and may include conferences, workshops, publications, exhibitions, TV programmes, dance, music and theatre performances, and educational activities - depending on the theme of the Prize.
Finance and Grants
The financial resources of the Foundation came originally from the Dutch Lottery and Sport Totaliser. The Foundation is at present completely independent.
The Praemium Erasmianum Foundation does not award incidental grants or subventions.
Since 1988, the Praemium Erasmianum Foundation awards annual Research Prizes. A maximum of five prizes of 3000 Euro each are awarded to young academic researchers in the humanities and social sciences, who have written a PhD dissertation of outstanding quality. The relevant faculties of the Dutch universities are asked to nominate candidates. The chairman of the Foundation presents the prizes during a ceremony that takes place in Amsterdam at the end of the year. more information
The Praemium Erasmianum Foundation publishes an illustrated yearbook. In this yearbook the emphasis is more on the subject matter of the theme of the Prize than on the report of the past year. For instance, papers presented during conferences or workshops may be published in the yearbook.
Depending on the area in which the Prize is awarded, an essay is published in the Praemium Erasmianum Essays, a series that was started in 1999. Occasionally the award of the Prize is considered a good opportunity for publishing a book on the laureate and his or her work. more information