Facing the Oslo waterfront and with a reflective external structure, the much-vaunted Edvard Munch Museum is finally set to open its doors to the public this autumn. The Munch Museum is a gallery that has been widely tipped to become one of the Norwegian capital’s most impressive tourist attractions but the project has been mired in delays. Towards the end of May, the Munch Museum’s management team announced that the final parts of the building had been completed, leaving the way open for its first exhibitions to be staged.
According to the gallery’s leadership team, the museum will open to the public on October 22nd, some eighteen months after it was supposed to open at the start of 2020. The building, which was designed by the Spanish architectural practice, Estudio Herreros, is located in Oslo’s Bjørvika district, an up-and-coming area that is popular with locals and visitors alike. The design of the gallery is distinctly contemporary, marking the museum out as one which will be a key cultural destination, not just in Norway but on the global art scene, too. The thirteen-story building is likely to become one of the key feature’s of the Oslo skyline as more and more tourists begin to appreciate its cultural and architectural significance.
The museum’s late delivery was accounted for by problems that arose with the fire and security doors that had been commissioned for it. There was also a further delay that came down to the need for additional time testing a novel climate control system that is designed to preserve the works of art that will be on the gallery’s walls. After that, further operational issues were caused by pandemic-related restrictions which accounted for a further 12 months of delay.
Curating and Programming
With the date for opening now set, the museum can get on with doing what it should be doing and curating shows. To begin with, the curators of the Munch Museum have decided that a temporary exhibition by the British-born artist, Tracey Emin, would be appropriate. Emin, who rose to prominence in the UK in the 1990s, has always said that Edvard Munch was a major influence on her work. This show is just one of many that have been planned, however.
The city authorities in Oslo have signalled their approval for the gallery as a visitor destination, saying that – even though it has been significantly delayed – that it will provide a much-needed boost to the city’s stated aim of a rapid recovery in the post-pandemic world. This is hardly surprising considering that, when the gallery finally opens to visitors, it will constitute one of the biggest venues dedicated to a lone artist in the world, putting it in the same sort of category as the globally renowned Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. If the Munch Museum enjoys a similar level of success as that institution, then the economic effects of it are likely to be felt throughout Oslo and the wider region, too.
Whether or not this will be achieved is to be seen, of course. After all, the Norwegian artist does not enjoy quite the same reputation as his more famous contemporary, Van Gogh. Munch, who was ten years younger than the Dutchman, is best known for just four works of art, each a version on the same theme, exploring the darker side of humanity. According to Munch, The Scream was first conceived in 1892 as the artist noted some blood-red skies over a local fjord. He later produced three further versions of the image, both paintings and pastels, all of which depict a harrowing image of a shrieking figure.
A True Home For the Collection
Munch went on to produce numerous other works of art which reflected the gloomier side of life, such as his oil, pencil and crayon work, Melancholy. However, it is for The Scream, known as the Shriek to many who translate its Norwegian title more literally, for which he is best known and for which his works have commanded the greatest sums since he died in 1944. When Munch passed on at the age of 80, he decided to leave all of his art to the city and inhabitants of his home city of Oslo. Now, almost 80 years since he died, the Norwegian capital will have a museum that is sufficiently large enough to showcase everything he left to the city. With the entire collection housed in just one gallery, it is hoped that Munch’s work will become more widely appreciated by people who only have a narrow idea of the sort of art he produced.
Oslo’s council leader, Raymond Johansen, held a press conference at which he revealed the gallery’s proposed opening date. He said that Munch had bequeathed a generous gift to Oslo and that it was fitting that the city had reflected that generosity with a suitable gallery. “Soon we will be able to share this gift,” he said. Johansen added that the museum would mean sharing Munch’s art with the rest of the world and that Oslo could now do so in such a way that truly reflects the art and does it justice.
About the author – Manuel Charr
Manuel Charr is a journalist working in the arts and cultural sectors. With a background in marketing, Manuel is drawn to arts organizations which are prepared to try inventive ways to reach new audiences.