The Laureate Prize Image

Yo-Yo Ma being honored at the Laureate Celebration, 2002

This Year's Recipient

Azar Nafisi

2015 Benjamin Franklin Creativity Laureate in the Humanities


The Laureate Prize

Established in 2002, The Creativity Laureate Prize recognizes and honors the most gifted and creative thinkers, innovators and professional catalysts in all areas of human endeavor—the arts, humanities, sciences, technology and public service.

Foremost among the criteria for the Laureate prize are notable innovation; a passion for extending intellectual and artistic understanding among people, and outstanding contributions toward bettering the human condition. Laureates exemplify the unique and often mysterious amalgam of inspiration, and creative insight, and revelation.

More about this year’s Laureate
More about our Past Laureate Prize Winners

The Smithsonian Institution and the Laureate Award Celebration

The Creativity Foundation, in collaboration with The Smithsonian Associates, annually selects a recipient for the Benjamin Franklin Laureate Prize for Creativity. The celebration ceremonies take place at the Smithsonian Institution; Washington, D.C.

The ceremony includes an intimate dialogue between the Laureate and a moderator. The Laureate is asked to explore and share the critical influences, challenges and experiences in the development of his or her own creative life. The intent of the dialogue is to motivate, encourage and inspire others to identify and stimulate the creativity within themselves. Indeed, the audience is encouraged to participate in an interactive conversation.

The next morning, the Laureate presides at the Creativity Round Table where he or she spearheads a vibrant and interactive discussion about the nature of creative thinking with the young gifted Legacy Prize winners and the accomplished members of the Creativity Foundation's Junto.

The Laureate Prize ceremony and the Round Table are recorded and preserved in the archives of the Smithsonian Institution. These recordings include reflections by extraordinary individuals who work in varied, but frequently overlapping, disciplines. Over the years, this compendium will become a remarkable collection of case studies, expanding empirical knowledge and enabling conceptual advances. These records will evolve into a wide range of educational materials, all available to the general public as well as to researchers interested in understanding more about the creative process.

The Medallion

The Creativity Laureate Prize medallion, after Jean Baptiste Nini’s 1777 pot metal and terracotta medallions, now cast in silver using old lost wax techniques at the British Royal Mint. The award includes a silver medallion, which replicates Nini’s 1777 “Benjamin Franklin in Fur Cap,“ and a cash award.

Baird Auditorium

Baird Auditorium

Baird Auditorium, the Natural History Museum, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.

Past Winners