With an avid interest in travel and science from a very young age, Prince Albert Iled 28 scientific expeditions. In order to promote the rapid growth and influence of oceanography, a relatively new science at the beginning of the 20th century, he founded the Oceanographic Institute. Created in 1906, this foundation which is officially recognised as being beneficial to the public is comprised of two establishments: the Oceanographic Museum in Monaco and the Home of the Oceans in Paris.
The Oceanographic Institute follows the wish of Prince Albert I of "knowing, loving and protecting the oceans" by acting as a mediator between the scientific community, political and economic decision-makers and the general public to promote the protection and sustainable management of the oceans.
A navigator and forerunner in the science of oceanography, Prince Albert I (1848–1922) devoted much of his life to the study of the oceans. He started his scientific expeditions in 1885 after a period of military and maritime training. Aboard highly sophisticated vessels (Hirondelle, Princess Alice, Princesse Alice II and Hirondelle II), this visionary Prince, great-great grandfather to H.S.H. Prince Albert II, sailed the length and breadth of the Mediterranean, visited the Azores then embarked on an Arctic adventure in Spitzbergen. He participated in major discoveries such as that of anaphylaxis, for which his collaborator Charles Richet was awarded the Nobel Prize of Medicine in 1913, and enabled the updating of new species.
Prince Albert I created the Oceanographic Museum in Monaco in order to study the collections brought back from the different expeditions and to diffuse their new-found knowledge. The soul of its founder can still be felt at the heart of this "Temple of the Sea". It fills the space and bestows it with unrivalled historical strength and solemnity.
Today, the Salle Albert I tells us about the career of this exceptional navigator. Numerous specimens, photographs and library documents bear witness to the birth of modern oceanography. Also present are several key objects including models of the Prince's boats and a life-size reproduction of a sperm whale, the marine mammal that allows the discovery of abyssal species by analysing the contents of its stomach.