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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
To demonstrate the influence, Emin personally selected 19 pieces of Munch's work to be displayed alongside 25 pieces of her own.
Running to the end of 2021, Emin's exhibition also presents some of her most famous works, including Insomnia and The Bed.
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.
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.
What do you think of the new Munch museum?