It was inaugurated in 1927, and named after Johan Ernst Gunnerus, founder of the learned society. Members of the learned society are eligible to suggest candidates, and the medal is awarded by the board of directors.
Current bearers of the medal are Johannes Moe (since 1988), Stig Strömholm (1997), Olaf I. Rønning (1998), Jørn Sandnes (1999), Gunnar Sundnes (2001), Peder Johan Borgen (2003), Harald A. Øye (2004), Jens Glad Balchen (2006), Olav Smidsrød (2008) and Ivar Giaever (2010).
Recipients of the medal:
- "Gunnerus-medaljen". Store norske leksikon (in Norwegian). Oslo: Kunnskapsforlaget. Retrieved 7 June 2009.
- "Priser og utmerkelser" (in Norwegian). Royal Norwegian Society of Sciences and Letters. Retrieved 7 June 2007.
- «Innehavere av Gunnerusmedaljen», Det Kongelige Norske Videnskabers Selskab.
- Sigval Schmidt-Nielsen, Store Norske Leksikon
- Waldemar Christofer Brøgger utdypningsartikkel, Store Norske Leksikon
- Lars Christensen utdypningsartikkel, Store Norske Leksikon
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