In 1958, HRH 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 annual Erasmus Prize and organises cultural and academic activities around the 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 laureates and in the content of the cultural and academic events.

Erasmus Prize

The Erasmus Prize is a distinction for persons or institutions that have made an exceptional contribution to culture or scholarship, in Europe and beyond. The Prize is awarded for acknowledged achievements and is not intended as a stimulant to young talent. The Prize consists of a sum of money of € 150,000 and adornments designed by Bruno Ninaber van Eyben. The Patron of the Foundation presents the Prize during a ceremony that usually takes place at the Royal Palace in Amsterdam.

Assignment of the Prize

The Board of the Foundation determines well in advance the area in which an Erasmus Prize will be awarded. Subsequently, an advisory committee is formed which proposes a laureate after consulting with Dutch and foreign experts. The Board is responsible for the final decision about the choice of the laureate.


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 and academic institutions, and may include – depending on the theme of the Prize – lectures, conferences, workshops, exhibitions, dance, music and theatre performances, and educational activities.

Research Prizes

Since 1988, the Praemium Erasmianum Foundation awards annual Research Prizes. A maximum of five prizes of € 3,000 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 festive ceremony that usually takes place in May.


The Praemium Erasmianum Foundation annually publishes a report of its activities over the previous year. Apart from this annual report, and depending on the area in which the Prize is awarded, an essay in the series ‘Praemium Erasmianum Essay’ is published, or another publication on the laureate and his or her work. Our annual report 2017 can be viewed here.


The Praemium Erasmianum Foundation derives its name from the Dutch humanist scholar Desiderius Erasmus (1466-1536). Erasmus was a true world citizen, with a universal view of life: humaneness is of greater value than any dogma. He rejected ideological dissension and pleaded for moderation and tolerance.

Finance and Grants

The Foundation is funded by an endowment from the Dutch Lottery and Sports Totaliser, and is not dependent on any other funds. The Praemium Erasmianum Foundation does not award incidental grants.

Donate and bequeath

Donations and legacies contribute to the objectives of the Foundation. These funds enable the Foundation to put its aims into effect and go directly to the special activities organised in connection with the award of the Erasmus Prize. The Praemium Erasmianum Foundation is a Dutch ANBI (a public advancement directed institution).