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In Pictures: Inside the New Munch Museum

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The new Munch museum is finally open in Oslo, giving Norway's most famous painter an enormous showcase for his work.

It's been an incredible 12 years since the winning design for Oslo's newest landmark museum was chosen. Hit by delays and budget issues, MUNCH is finally open to the public.

Munch museum exterior logo

With travel restrictions still in place and big crowds expected during the opening weeks, many people won't be able to visit the museum for a while.

I was fortunate enough to be invited to attend the press preview day in advance of the public opening. So with camera in hand, I set about exploring the new attraction to bring you a taste of what's inside.

Start by watching this 60-second tour of the museum. You can also watch on YouTube if you prefer. Enjoy!

A showcase for Edvard Munch

The famous Norwegian painter Edvard Munch lived from 1863 to 1944. His painting The Scream has become one of the world's most recognisable artworks.

Munch left his vast personal collection of art to the City of Oslo upon his death. It included 1,150 paintings, 7,500 drawings, 18,000 graphics plus many other personal items.

A drawing of the Norwegian artist Edvard Munch.
A drawing of Edvard Munch

Five times bigger than the previous museum, the new MUNCH (as it's been styled) provides space to showcase far more of the painter's artworks and drawings than ever before.

The controversial exterior

This latest addition to Oslo’s long-term waterfront development project is a controversial one. Designed by Spanish architects estudio Herreros, the building’s unusual shape and facade has drawn criticism from many Norwegians.

Munch museum on the Oslo waterfront

I was fortunate enough to chat with the lead architect at the event. In a few days, I'll be bringing you that interview as a podcast, so watch out for that.

Public foyer

Step inside the museum and you'll find yourself in a large open public area. To the left is a gift shop, while a deli/cafe stands at the far end of the building.

Gift shop in the Munch museum foyer

While some have criticised the foyer as feeling like an airport, bosses at MUNCH say the space is modern and flexible and will allow many uses in the years to come.

Munch Deli interior

The ‘tower' in the building contains the 11 exhibition halls, stacked one on top of the other. It's separated from the public area and requires a ticket to enter.

Munch exhibition areas

Several of the exhibition halls are permanently dedicated to Munch's paintings, drawings and other works. It is a fitting tribute to the biggest name in Norwegian art.

Munch museum exhibition hall

Highlights include Munch’s mural The Sun, displayed in a tall room alongside several of Munch's other murals. These were originally created for the University of Oslo's ceremonial hall.

Munch murals in the new museum

The museum explores many dark themes such as loneliness and inner turmoil, through hundreds of Munch’s own paintings and drawings. Munch's experimentations with woodcut art are also well worth a look to appreciate the artist's diverse talents.

Munch portrait hall

The collection of his drawings will be of particular interest to Munch fans, as many have never been on public display before. Such drawings provide an insight into Munch's creative process like never before.

Edvard Munch drawing at the Oslo Munch museum

On the 11th floor, the Stenersen Collection, presents art from Munch-inspired Norwegian artists including Kai Fjell, Ludvig Karsten, Rolf Nesch and Jakob Weidemann. The collection is named after an early patron of Munch.

The Scream x3

Of course, an undoubted highlight of the new museum is Munch's most famous work, The Scream.

The Scream information board at the Munch museum

There are three versions of The Scream in the museum, a painting, print and drawing. To protect the works, only one is on display at once and they automatically rotate hourly.

The Scream painting on display

While MUNCH is billed as one of the world's biggest single-artist museums, there is plenty of other work on display. Munch always wished his work to be viewed in context, so it's only fitting that the museum displays work by others who were inspired by Munch.

Tracey Emin temporary exhibition

British artist Tracey Emin is one of the famous artists to have been inspired by Munch. Her exhibition The Loneliness of the Soul is a long-awaited highlight of the new museum.

'Insomnia' by Tracey Emin
‘Insomnia' by Tracey Emin

To demonstrate the influence, Emin personally selected 19 pieces of Munch's work to be displayed alongside 25 pieces of her own.

The Bed by Tracey Emin
‘The Bed' by Tracey Emin

Running to the end of 2021, Emin's exhibition also presents some of her most famous works, including Insomnia and The Bed.

Loneliness of the Soul exhibition in Oslo, Norway

There's an interesting line-up of future temporary exhibitions planned for the museum.

View from the Munch museum

The museum is surrounded on three sides by water, so there are fantastic views of the city's waterfront from several places in the museum.

The skyline of the Oslo waterfront

Visitors can enjoy the cityscapes outside each of the exhibition halls and riding the museum's long escalators, providing a natural break between the museum's attractions.

View of downtown Oslo from the Munch museum.

What do you think of the new Munch museum?

About David Nikel

Originally from the UK, David now lives in Trondheim and was the original founder of Life in Norway back in 2011. He now works as a professional writer on all things Scandinavia.

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