The Nobel Institute has always had close links to Norwegian and foreign research environments, especially in the fields of modern history and international affairs. The Directors of the Institute have often been prominent scholars in their fields. The first Director, Christian Lous Lange, dreamt of making the Institute a leading international academy for studies relating to war and peace. The dream proved impossible to fulfil, however, among other things because the Institute's working capital was not sufficient for such an ambitious venture.
With the appointment of Professor Geir Lundestad as Director in 1990, the old research ambitions were revived. A Research Director was appointed, and in due course seven new offices and a microfilm room were fitted out for use for research purposes. In the spring of 1992 the Institute set up a fellowship program offering research grants to both established and younger scholars. Since then, nearly 100 visiting fellows from over 25 countries have spent shorter or longer periods at the Institute, including a number of the world's leading cold war historians and experts on international affairs.
In connection with the Fellowship Program, research seminars were regularly held which were open to the public.