Institut Océanographique

The Oceanographic Institute of Monaco - Prince Albert I of Monaco Foundation

The Oceanographic Institute, Prince Albert I of Monaco Foundation was founded by Prince Albert I, a passionate and visionary seafarer. Recognized as serving the public interest by French presidential decree on 16 May 1906, the Foundation has been working for the Ocean for more than a century.

Its mission is to promote knowledge, love, and protection of the Ocean by bringing together scientific, political, economic, and public stakeholders for a sustainable use of the Ocean and the conservation of marine ecosystems. Under the impetus of its Honorary President, HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco, the Oceanographic Institute actively contributes to Monaco’s commitment to the Ocean.

As a vehicle for numerous projects both on the national and international scene (symposia, exhibitions, educational programmes, etc.), it strives to raise environmental awareness.

The Oceanographic Institute utilizes its two prominent locations, the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco and the Maison de l’Océan in Paris, alongside its international influence and partnerships, to fulfil its mission.

The Oceanographic Museum of Monaco

Set against the mythical “Rocher de Monaco”, the Oceanographic Museum is the “flagship” of the Foundation and raises awareness among more than 650,000 visitors per year.

Beyond its remarkable architecture, it stands out for its world-renowned aquarium, its exhibition events and the alliance of art and science within its walls.

A place of culture and exchange of ideas, where experiences in the protection of the Ocean are shared, the Oceanographic Museum organises and hosts international conferences.

“To tread the pack ice is to experience one of our best reasons for living, that is: to take care of the planet, to safeguard what our civilisation is today trying hard to destroy… We no longer live in the age of the pioneers and adventurers who ventured out into unknown lands. The nature of the journey has changed: it is not as much about discovering new lands as about taking care of them.”

HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco, Honorary President of the Oceanographic Institute

Robert Calcagno — Chief Executive Officer of the Oceanographic Institute, Prince Albert I of Monaco Foundation

Last year we celebrated the centenary of the death of Prince Albert I, the founder of the Oceanographic Institute of Monaco. When that great explorer and pioneer of modern oceanography took a snapshot of the Lilliehöök Glacier, one of the largest in Spitsbergen, at the turn of the 20th century, could he have imagined that this frozen monster would have retreated several kilometres, a victim of the inexorable dynamics of climate change?

To commemorate this event and the enormous scientific legacy left by His great-great-grandfather, HSH Prince Albert II returned to the Svalbard archipelago. He will not fail to be struck once more by the ecological upheaval hitting these lands of the Far North, lands which he trod in 1982 and again in 2005, and which have certainly made Him even more convinced of the need for a relentless battle to save the poles.

A battle which He is leading with the support of the foundation which bears His name, the Princely Government, the Oceanographic Institute and the Monaco Scientific Centre.

Arctic and Antarctic have long been the object of great fascination. They will be at the centre of the Oceanographic Institute’s new programme, after two years devoted to coral reefs. Far from the eyes but close to the heart, these distant lands stir the imagination.

The pack ice and the polar bears in the North, the emperor penguins and the vast icy wilderness in the South are their emblems. Far more than simply breathtaking landscapes, the poles are driving forces vital to the smooth running and balance of the planet, particularly with regard to the climate.

And yet they are a little more threatened each year, whether by the disruption of the climate, and its corollaries – loss of biodiversity, rising sea levels, acidification, melting permafrost – or else by pollution, overfishing, the temptation to exploit underground resources or even diplomatic tensions.

The publication of the book “At the heart of the polar worlds, Challenged by global warming and exploitation” by Glénat, the hosting of a high-level scientific symposium, organised by the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation in partnership with the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR) and the International Arctic Science Committee (IASC), has brought together researchers working on the Arctic and the Antarctic, as well as the important “Polar Mission”, exhibition at the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco, allow us to raise awareness and mobilise the public on a very large scale.

Inform, act, convince… giving up is out of the question. Through His diplomatic action and by interceding with His peers, HSH Prince Albert II made a direct contribution to the creation of the Ross Sea Region Marine Protected Area in 2016. Even if this area is one of the largest in the world, it is not sufficient.

The key challenge facing the Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) in their annual negotiations is to convince partner countries to create several new Antarctic Marine Protected Areas. However, this does not mean that we are advocating that the Poles should be placed totally under glass. By our action we are also aiming to ensure the existence of a reasonable blue economy.

“I hope that the emotions aroused by the beauty of these polar regions, combined with an awareness of their vital role on a planetary scale, will lead Humanity to treat them with respect and prudence”, explains HSH Prince Albert II, because one thing we are now sure of is that the future of the poles foreshadows our own.

‘Polar Mission’

The Oceanographic Museum’s exhibition gives guests an immersive experience in 5 stages at the heart of the Arctic and the Antarctic. Visitors can bump into the great explorers who ventured there, the species which have adapted to these extreme environments, the men who have chosen to live in the Far North, the scientists who are moving science forward…

Like a reporter, guests are given an entrance ticket illustrating a press card which opens all kinds of contents and information as they walk along. On board for a polar mission, guests can collect all the information they need to produce their report before being invited to hand over at the end of their tour.

The high point of the visit is the “IMMERSION” room, offering 650 m2 of screen projection, so that guests can feel, at the closet quarters possible, the beauty and the fragility of the polar worlds. It is absolutely vital to the balance of planet Earth that the poles remain in good health, which is why Prince Albert I, at the turn of the 20th century, and HSH Prince Albert II, today, have enshrined these territories in Monaco’s DNA by the Oceanographic Institute on the one hand and by the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation on the other and it is newly illustrated by this major exhibition.


Remote and inaccessible, the poles still too often give an impression of unchanged worlds. How mistaken! The Oceanographic Institute is decoding the major challenges facing these remote lands and opening dialogue through its new programme.

Publications, exhibition, activities for younger ones… these are as many tools intended to raise public awareness about these regions, of their breathtaking beauty, their vital role in the earth’s climate, but also of the dangers threatening them and the risks we will incur if we do not mobilise for their preservation. The last regions on our planet to have been discovered and explored by Westerners, the polar regions are still hard to reach.

In the north, they are inhabited by indigenous peoples with multiple cultures, such as the famous Innuits, while in the south, protected by the Antarctica Treaty, they are only occupied for scientific purposes.

In this extreme environment, wildlife abounds, but man could affect the fragile balance of these ecosystems, which global warming is already seriously upsetting it.

Polar species such as the emblematic polar bear are subjected to the full force of these unprecedented changes which affect their habitat and food resources. And perhaps the worst is yet to come… Indeed, experts fear that global warming and the melting of the polar icecap will accelerate dramatically. What is more, since the shrinking of the sea ice is opening up new possibilities for human activities (such as fishing, transport, off shore exploitation of hydrocarbons and tourism), it seems that it will be impossible to preserve these regions completely.

It is therefore an urgent matter to develop a new planetary management system for the poles, and to adopt an approach which, for the first time, will put the preservation of ecosystems before the greed of mankind.

Institut Océanographique
Fondation Albert Ier, Prince de Monaco
Musée océanographique
Avenue Saint-Martin, MC 98000, Monaco

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